UFC 166: Is Cain Velasquez Really a Weak Puncher?

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UFC 166: Is Cain Velasquez Really a Weak Puncher?
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this year, Cain Velasquez managed to rip the heavyweight title from the grasp of Junior Dos Santos at UFC 155. Velasquez accomplished this via a five-round shellacking that left Dos Santos looking less than picturesque; his face was a swollen mess.

In spite of this, Dos Santos went on to say that Velasquez “hits like a girl,” via John Joe O'Regan of Fighters Only. His rationale was based on the fact that Velasquez did not open any cuts on his face.

Obviously, this was a bit of post-fight bitterness. He called the swelling of his face “bloating,” which is as modest a description one could think of after seeing Velasquez hammer him from pillar-to-post over five full rounds.

Of Velasquez's 12 victories, 10 have come via KO/TKO, yet only one was really what could be described as an honest knockout. When Velasquez fought Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 110, he landed a series of short, quick punches that dropped the iron-chinned Brazilian flat on his back. He followed up with punches on the ground, but Nogueira looked to have been finished beforehand.

But does having only one “true” KO on his record make him a weak puncher?

The style of Velasquez is not that of a pure stand-up fighter. He opens with punches while standing, and if he’s landing well, he’ll keep throwing. He’s a man who loves to fight, and he’s willing to attack at any level.

But above all else, he’s a smart fighter. He may not be starching opponents with punches every time, but he’s knocking people down and finishing them from there with strikes.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Velasquez clobbers Dos Santos.

His main strengths are his takedowns and his top-control—both elements of a high-level wrestling attack that has proven terribly hard to deal with in the division. He mixes his stand-up with takedowns seamlessly. Fear of this aspect of his game has seen him capitalize on openings while standing.

It was because of this that he was able to knock Dos Santos all over the ring in their rematch at UFC 155. Velasquez was more than happy to stand with Dos Santos, knowing the takedown was there for him more often than not.

Additionally, Velasquez knocked Dos Santos down when both men were trading on their feet. After that brutal right hand, Dos Santos looked like he was sleepwalking through the rest of the fight.

Velasquez might not be throwing bombs like Dos Santos, but he knows how to deliver force with his punches—that cannot be denied.

While Dos Santos may honestly feel like Velasquez is a weak puncher, his face told another tale, and it was not that of a man who had simply walked home from work in a mild rain.

He looked like he’d been caught in a storm, losing the belt along the way.

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