Certain factors of a fighter's game can play a part in the outcome of a fight.
If a fighter improves in the standup, it can give him an edge over his opponent — especially if his opponent's striking is only proven to be good for a certain amount of time before gassing.
If a fight improves in his ground game, that could also show that the fighter in question is more dimensional than previously thought.
See Brock Lesnar at UFC 116 for an example.
Speaking of the champ, he's got a date with Cain Velasquez at UFC 121 in November — the card that is still believed to see the winner of next month's Middleweight title war face a returning Vitor Belfort, as well as the debut of The Ultimate Fighter 11's Middleweight champion Court McGee.
Those two we can touch on at another moment in time.
For now, though, I'd like to address those who have bought into the "Lesnar's back and better" hype.
Of course, he's fully recovered from a life-threatening bout with Diverticulitis, and even more so, he's finally gotten a win by way of a legitimate submission hold with his second-round victory-by-arm-triangle over Shane Carwin.
Does that mean Lesnar is going to steamroll over Velasquez?
Yeah, about as easily as Rogerio Nogueira "steamrolled" over Jason Brilz.
Translation: Brock's got himself a tough test ahead of him, whether people believe Cain to be a threat to Brock or not.
"But Dale, why are you so sure that Cain can beat Brock? Brock's just too much of a beast to be beaten by a guy like Cain!"
True, Lesnar's a beast.
More true: Lesnar is a man.
On any given day, any fighter can be defeated. Brock Lesnar is no exception to that statement no matter how much you convince yourself otherwise.
So why can Cain Velasquez beat Brock Lesnar?
I see five reasons why Cain Velasquez can beat Brock Lesnar, actually.
Brock Lesnar's stand-up game is not the best, as the Shane Carwin fight proved. Lesnar literally had to take Carwin down in order to set up that arm triangle.
You'd think Cain Velasquez would have done the same up until now, and he has.
Then came Cheick Kongo and Antonio Minotauro Nogueira.
We'll touch on Kongo later on because a lot was learned about Cain against Kongo, but the Minotauro fight at UFC 110 is the real key factor here.
Cain may have beaten a Minotauro Nogueira that seems different than the one that was such a force in PRIDE, but at no real time in Cain's career could anyone recall Cain standing with his opponent and acquiring the KO win in any fashion relevant to that of the way he finished Minotauro.
Even if the fight was only about two minutes and twenty seconds of Cain on his feet, the fact of the matter is that Cain showed that he could last on his feet against a still-elite fighter who just happens to be one of the greatest Brazilian BJJ practitioners in the game to not have the last name "Gracie".
Mind you, Brock's only had about six fights in his pro career, and like Cain, only one of his fights has gone a complete three-round distance, but from my vantage point, Brock has seemed to have the exact same game plan for every fight so far, and that plan is to take the fight to the ground.
Every fight sans the first go-round with Frank Mir, the war with Heath Herring, and his return to the cage against Carwin has ended the same way:
With Brock on the ground and pounding away at some area of either his opponent's body or his opponent's face
Brock can do the same thing with Cain if he wants, but he also better prepare for a Cain Velasquez that wants to keep the fight on the feet.
Maybe Brock thinks another session or so with Peter Welch, the boxing coach for Kenny Florian, might be a good way to prep up for Cain, but he needs to prove his supporters right and keep that stand-up game evolving like everyone says it will.
If he doesn't, out goes the reign of Brock Lesnar as UFC Heavyweight Champ, and in comes loss number two on the record of Mr. Lesnar.
Can't see what I mean? Check out the below:
This is where the references to the Kongo fight can begin, and rightfully so.
Lesnar isn't Kongo, but still an good eye on the action indicated that Kongo's best shots caught Cain throughout various seconds of their UFC 99 battle, and yet Cain didn't fall down.
As a matter of fact, he actually was able to take down Kongo after eating a shot.
This tells me that, although to most it will seem outlandish to even think it close to possible, the notion of Cain Velasquez absorbing some of Brock's best shots and still being able to land some shots of his own is by no means anywhere close to unlikely.
I know I've said that guys like Brock are men and all men can be beaten, and I'm not labeling Velasquez as an exception.
What I will say though is that men are capable of doing some unbelievable things, especially when they have a bountiful amount at stake.
Brock can get Peter Welch or even Freddie Roach to help with his Boxing, and maybe Brock's two best shots will turn Cain's seemingly-iron jaw into a glass jaw.
But even Brock Lesnar's best shots I don't think can take Cain to the ground and keep him there.
When you take a shot at Cain, he keeps right on coming back as if those shots had never landed and he takes the fight to where he wants it, which is on the ground.
Brock could land his best shots on Cain if he wants, but I think Cain could be the one that takes it to the ground — and not by a cranium-shattering blow from Lesnar either.
Below is Cain's UFC 99 bout against Cheick Kongo:
I'm sure many could have seen this coming: this is the part where I mention Cain's cardio.
I'm not talking about going three rounds with Kongo. Lesnar did that with Herring.
I'm talking about the ability to move around the cage, absorb punishment, deliver punishment, and not seem tired at the end of the fight.
If you ask me, Cain Velasquez has the best cardio out of really any of the UFC's Heavyweight division and one of the best cardiovascular endurances in the UFC.
Brock might prove to have the same insane-as-hell cardio that Cain has, but the difference between the two in my eyes is that Brock does get exhausted in fights.
Even if he doesn't gas himself out, he does tire out and slow down.
So far, Cain hasn't, done so in his career.
He's taken a few good shots in some of his previous fights, but Cain has yet to exhaust himself.
If Cain does what he's been doing in his past fights and stays active without investing in one sick shot to Lesnar, it could be all over.
(Credit to Sherdog for the Photo)
Lesnar brought in Randy Couture to help him out with his preparations for Shane Carwin.
Cain doesn't need to worry too much with that, though maybe he too could benefit from a session or two with Randy.
Still, the American Kickboxing Academy has folks left and right that help him out in training, and it's not just Josh Koscheck, Mike Swick, and Jon FItch either.
It's guys like Cung Le, Josh Thomson, Trevor Prangley, and Bobby Southworth that have helped upped Cain's game as a fighter.
Maybe Lesnar is the one with less to worry about here, but you never know what tricks an AKA guys will whip out come fight night, so Lesnar had better be prepared.
If he doesn't, he'll be on the receiving end of something deadly from Cain Velasquez — and the smart money is that when it happens, Lesnar won't see it coming.
Brock Lesnar, to his credit, has a more impressive collegiate career than does Cain.
He's been an NCAA Champion once before, wheras Cain has only been an All-American.
Does that mean that Cain's wrestling is worse than Brock's?
Cain doesn't have the awards, but he does have something that Brock may have to contend with, even in the later round if the fight goes to the later rounds, and that something is underscored strength.
Cain showed this same strength when he was coming off the Kongo win and facing off against Ben Rothwell.
Rothwell's not a lighter-heayweight by any means, yet Cain Velasquez was able to take Rothwell down and control him on the ground before finishing him off in round two.
This is where Cain's wrestling is actually underscored compared to Brock's, because Brock looks like the type that can take his opponents down and he's taken down every one of them.
Cain's done the latter, but to me he doesn't look like he would be a heavyweight at all.
That's what amazes me about Cain, and that's why he could have an edge in the takedown department despite having less accomplishments under his belt than Brock.
He doesn't look like he can take Brock down, and he maynot be able to do so with ease.
Heck, getting Rothwell down with a single-leg was a bit tough — Cain had to get Ben into a position where he was unable to keep his balance.
Just because he looks like he can't do it with ease doesn't mean it won't happen at all.
If you still need conviction, check out the Rothwell-Velasquez fight from UFC 104: