Most UFC fans will be enjoying the third Cain Velasquez-Junior "Cigano" dos Santos bout on Saturday at UFC 166, but let's face it: If there were more legitimately strong heavyweights, this trilogy may not exist.
Despite the fact that dos Santos annihilated Velasquez when he dethroned him in 2011, it is understandable that the former champion would get an opportunity for a rematch. However, it could be argued that rematch happened too quickly.
Velasquez pummeled Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva in May 2012 at UFC 146 before defeating dos Santos in Nov. 2012. Cigano easily walked through Frank Mir in the main event of UFC 146 when Mir replaced the suspended Alistair Overeem.
Ultimately, Overeem would be destroyed by Bigfoot at UFC 156, and Bigfoot would be desecrated again by Velasquez at UFC 160. In turn, the replacement issue became a moot point. To earn his own rematch, dos Santos had to KO the tough Mark Hunt at UFC 160.
So here we are, ready for a third installment of the UFC's biggest—and only—heavyweight rivalry, but the fact of the matter is, there simply is no one else to test Velasquez and dos Santos. Over the last two years, Velasquez has only fought two men: Silva and Cigano.
Neither of his fights with Silva were competitive, but they were necessary because no other heavyweight had proven themselves worthy of serious contention.
Cigano's path to a third fight has been a bit more diverse, but only a little more challenging. Mir didn't deserve to be in the Octagon with him, but Overeem's elevated-testosterone tomfoolery made it necessary, per Scott Sawitz of Fox Sports. That was the worst main event in a major UFC pay-per-view event—at least in recent memory.
The fight with Hunt was entertaining, but it is hard to imagine anyone seriously believing he would defeat dos Santos.
Some could look at the back-and-forth trading of the title between dos Santos and Velasquez as exciting, but the dynamics are consistent with the less-than-dominant history of the belt.
No heavyweight champion in UFC history has ever defended the title more than twice. Not only is the division devoid of a large group of top-notch fighters, but no champion has been able to sustain any level of dominance to make himself a big fish in the proverbial small pond.
Help could be on the way with the likes of Roy Nelson and Daniel Cormier. They battle in the co-main event at UFC 166; but no matter who wins dos Santos-Velasquez III, the winner would be a sizable favorite over both Nelson and Cormier.
If Velasquez wins on Saturday, it could be argued he is definitively the better man. However, if dos Santos wins, what's to keep Velasquez from making a fourth meeting the best fight in the division? Who's going to stop him? Fabricio Werdum?
UFC fans should be prepared for more dos Santos-Velasquez, or the winner of the main event feasting on the second-tier heavyweights in the division.
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