Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
The sturdiness of Cain Velasquez’s chin has been a contentious subject amongst fans ever since Cheick Kongo had him walking on stilts with a couple of well-placed right hands in 2009.
In fairness, though, we’re talking about heavyweights here. Punch resistance is a relative concept when the sport’s big men face off.
Still, the view that Velasquez can’t take a decent shot persists.
This perception seems to stem from a collective sampling bias. Many MMA fans remember the few times Velasquez has been visibly shaken by a punch, yet ignore the occasions when he has absorbed the kind of shots that would have vaporized an ordinary man’s jaw.
It strikes me as a little uncharitable to turn Velasquez’s chin into a punchline on the basis of three or four received right hands over the course of an entire career.
Even if I’m right about Cain’s chin, the real question is whether it can handle the kind of power imparted by dos Santos’ strikes.
Based on the pair’s first fight, the answer would appear to be a resounding “no.” After all, a single “Cigano” right hand to the temple was sufficient to put Velasquez in la la land.
What of the second fight, though? Understandably, fans and media focused on the challenger’s dominance—so much so that we overlooked how well his chin stood up to the Brazilian’s shots.
“Cigano” landed a number of right hands and reverse elbows that would have felled a lesser fighter.
However, no matter how many punches and elbows Velasquez absorbs, we’ll always have it in the back of our minds that dos Santos has proved he can end the fight with a single swing of his right arm.
Saturday night’s main event should give Cain’s chin the opportunity to answer some lingering questions, one way or the other.