Not all MMA rivalries are created equal—some are mild and fueled by ongoing verbal spats, whereas others arise as the result of top-tier athletes clashing inside the confines of the cage.
On Saturday, October 19, Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos will look to conclude their back-and-forth heavyweight title exchange with a trilogy fight for the history books.
Believe the hype—this is the third (and possibly final) act to the most significant rivalry in UFC heavyweight history.
It wasn't forged by crafty pre-fight salesmanship. Instead, the exciting history shared by these two men is punctuated by the respective skills, pedigree and raw performances that redefined the expectations of a No. 1 heavyweight facing off against No. 2.
Will dos Santos regain his former title with the same swiftness he exhibited in his first outing against Velasquez, or will he walk away even more battered and defeated than in the last attempt?
There's no denying that, thus far, they've split the fights evenly. But when the lights drops inside Houston's Toyota Center, MMA fans worldwide will bear witness to the rubber match of what is sure to become an iconic Octagon rivalry.
Just think—it's the finale to a night prefaced with names like Daniel Cormier, Gilbert Melendez, Diego Sanchez and many more.
Just in case you're not at the edge of your seat already, Bleacher Report has you covered with a dynamic guide to UFC 166's stacked fight card.
Main Card (pay-per-view at 10 p.m. ET)
UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos
Daniel Cormier vs. Roy Nelson
Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Shawn Jordan
John Dodson vs. Darrell Montague
Televised Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET)
Tim Boetsch vs. C.B. Dollaway
Nate Marquardt vs. Hector Lombard
Sarah Kaufman vs. Jessica Eye
George Sotiropoulos vs. KJ Noons
Online Preliminary Card (Facebook/YouTube at 6:15 p.m. ET)
TJ Waldburger vs. Adlan Amagov
Tony Ferguson vs. Mike Rio
Jeremy Larsen vs. Andre Fili
Dustin Pague vs. Kyoji Horiguchi
*Fight card and airing times courtesy of UFC.com.
- Combined average percent of Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos victories by way TKO/KO: 79 percent
- Velasquez's landed significant strike rate: 6.33 per minute
- Velasquez's takedown attempt rate: 6.49 per 15 minutes of combat
- Percent of time Velasquez is in control when a bout hits the ground: 97 percent
- Daniel Cormier's takedown defense rate: 100 percent
- Percent of significant strikes that Roy Nelson manages to defend: 48 percent
- Combined career victories between Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez: 47
- Percent of Gabriel Gonzaga's 15 career victories by way of decision: 0 percent
*Stats courtesy of FightMetric.
Cain Velasquez: -210 favorite over challenger Junior dos Santos +170.
Gilbert Melendez: -700 favorite over Diego Sanchez +450.
Daniel Cormier: -600 favorite over Roy Nelson +400.
Shawn Jordan: -200 favorite over Gabriel Gonzaga +160.
John Dodson: -365 favorite over Darrell Montague +275.
*Fight odds via Bovada
Before UFC 166 starts, there's no better way to build the excitement than a refreshing review of a few select fights from some of the fight card's biggest stars.
After a run through the UFC's free offerings below, any MMA fan would be left eagerly awaiting this weekend's matchups.
Junior dos Santos becomes the first man to defeat Cain Velasquez and wins the UFC heavyweight champion—all in one night.
Junior dos Santos throws a wild spinning kick and drops Mark Hunt.
Velasquez topples Lesnar to win the UFC heavyweight championship.
John Dodson's blistering speed and power overwhelm T.J. Dillashaw.
Roy Nelson stops the Croatian legend.
A "Cigano" overhand right was the key ingredient in Junior dos Santos' formula for success when he first stripped Cain Velasquez of the heavyweight title.
As soon as the rematch was announced, many surmised that it would be nothing short of a repeat performance.
Courtesy of the UFC's official YouTube channel, we have a free reminder of just how wrong it was to bet against Velasquez in the rematch. Over the course of 25 minutes, his unrelenting assault took place in all corners of the Octagon.
Though he couldn't finish dos Santos, Velasquez managed to return the favor by dropping "Cigano" with his own well-timed overhand right.
With both men considerably improved as a result of the trials and tribulations in the two years since their first bout on Fox, we can only begin to imagine what they have in store for Saturday night.
Will a fully primed and ready dos Santos land a decisive blow early in the fight, proving that his first attempt was no fluke? Or will Velasquez continue his demolition of the Brazilian, reminding the world that a great divide separates him and the No. 2 in his weight class?
Regardless of the outcome, this bout is all but guaranteed to conclude their trilogy but spawn countless conversations from MMA fans worldwide.