When Cain Velasquez and Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva met at UFC 146 last year, most expected it to be one of the most exciting fights on the card. That turned out to be true, but it didn't last long, as Velasquez knocked out Silva in just three minutes and 36 seconds. Silva will have another crack at Velasquez at UFC 160 on Saturday in Las Vegas, however.
Velasquez has since captured the UFC heavyweight title after defeating Junior dos Santos in December, so the stakes will be even higher this time around. Based on their last fight, Velasquez is a heavy favorite. He can't afford to take Silva lightly, though, because the Brazilian has a big-time track record of success.
Here are the three biggest keys that Velasquez must adhere to if he hopes to repeat his UFC 146 performance against Silva on Saturday at UFC 160.
Go for the Knockout
After getting thoroughly dominated by Velasquez at UFC 146, it's possible that Silva will be a bit more cautious this time around. Velasquez can't allow that type of approach to influence him, though. Three out of Silva's four career losses have come by way of knockout, and Velasquez has nine career knockout victories in his own right, so there is no point in straying from that.
Perhaps in an effort to get into his opponent's head and throw him off his game, Silva claims that he is going to knock Velasquez out, according to MMASpot.com.
Velasquez's one career loss did come by way of knockout against dos Santos, so that may actually be the best strategy on Silva's part. However, Velasquez shouldn't let Silva's talk distract him.
Velasquez isn't the type of fighter who generally goes the distance, nor is Silva. Velasquez's aggressive style has allowed him to become the best heavyweight in UFC, and he needs to worry about fighting the fight that is most comfortable for him rather than falling into his opponent's traps.
Avoid Mat Grappling
Both Velasquez and Silva are considered to be knockout fighters by most, but Silva certainly has the ability to tap his opponent out in certain situations. Silva has three career submission victories, and although he hasn't turned the trick since beating Jim York with an arm-triangle choke in 2009, it is something that he has in his back pocket at all times.
Velasquez, on the other hand, has never scored a submission win, so he should do everything in his power to avoid mat grappling with Silva.
That means Velasquez should stand toe-to-toe with Silva and throw punches for as long as possible before ultimately going for a takedown. If Velasquez is too sloppy, though, Silva could turn the tables and put him in a very precarious position.
That is why Velasquez can't get overzealous until he is sure that he has the advantage. Velasquez is the clear favorite, but Silva's submission ability definitely makes him a threat.
As long as Velasquez succeeds in keeping the upper hand, though, he should be fine.
Forget About Last Fight
It would probably be pretty easy for Velasquez to enter UFC 160 with a great deal of confidence and maybe even a bit of cockiness after UFC 146. He took Silva out to the woodshed and laid a beating on him, but that fight is in the past and has very little to do with Saturday night.
If Velasquez comes into UFC 160 expecting a similar fight, he could be in for a rude awakening.
Velasquez remembers what he did to Silva, but Silva remembers as well.
Bigfoot will do everything in his power to ensure that he isn't embarrassed again, so Velasquez needs to be on his toes and can't simply expect to do the same thing as last time. It's unclear if either man will be able to block UFC 146 from their memories, but Connor Casey of H4TV has noticed that UFC itself is treating UFC 160 like an entirely different ballgame.
As long as Velasquez does the same and focuses on taking care of UFC 160, he should be able to beat Silva for a second time and retain his title.
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