It may be awhile before Junior dos Santos sees Cain Velasquez inside the Octagon again, but he's certain their paths will cross for a fourth time somewhere down the line.
The former heavyweight champion, and the current strap holder, have collided on three occasions with the AKA standout claiming victory in their two most recent tilts. "Cigano" scored a first-round knockout to claim the heavyweight crown in their first meet at UFC on Fox 1 back in November of 2011. But Velasquez rebounded in epic fashion to thoroughly dominate the heavy-handed Brazilian in their two other bouts.
The Mexican/American champion reclaimed the title by drubbing "JDS" at UFC 155 in December of 2012, then successfully defended the belt 11 months later by routing dos Santos once again at UFC 166 in October. With Velasquez defeating dos Santos twice in less than a year—and doing so in brutal fashion—the possibility of a fourth meeting between the two heavyweight powerhouses seemed highly unlikely.
Fabricio Werdum and Travis Browne are set to square off in a title eliminator bout at UFC on Fox 11 in April, with the winner getting a championship opportunity against Velasquez later this year. This creates a scenario where dos Santos will need to put together a few victories before he earns another shot at the title, but the 31-year-old is confident it is a task he will accomplish.
I think I will meet Velasquez again in a title fight. He says I won't but I don't think so. I'm still the number one guy from the divisional ranking. Of course I won't fight for the belt so soon but if Cain establish himself as the champion and I obtain two or three wins, I believe we will meet again. He is a guy that I admire a lot. He was knocked out, learned with his mistakes, blocked my game and beat me. Now it's me who is trying to evolve.
In the interview, dos Santos also revealed he is eyeing a summer return and would be ready to fight in May or June. While there has been no official opponent named for his next bout, there has been talk about a potential bout with Stipe Miocic being the next step for the Team Nogueira fighte, per Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie.
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.