UFC 121, Lesnar vs. Velasquez: Has Lesnar Improved Since Facing Carwin?
With Brock Lesnar's fight against Cain Velasquez only days away, many people have been concerned about Lesnar's ability to strike with the young up-and-comer. Cain Velasquez boasts an impressive record of eight wins and zero loses (seven of which were won by either knockout or TKO).
Lesnar's last fight with Shane "The Breathless Beast" Carwin resulted in Lesnar running for his life off of a grazing uppercut that barely managed to catch Lesnar's chin. Luckily for Lesnar, Carwin managed to punch himself into a air-sucking stupor long enough for Lesnar to get the double-leg and secure the side choke to win the fight in the second round.
What is also notable is the fact that all of Lesnar's punches (which were about four, tops) didn't even come close to landing solid and were thrown with almost no real force.
It was clear in the Lesnar vs. Carwin fight that Lesnar had only one game plan and that was to try and out-wrestle Carwin and secure a dominate ground and pound or look for a submission, which he managed to do, but even though he was successful with this one dimensional approach to MMA it is often times a recipe for failure.
In order to properly assess the way this fight is going to unfold, a few different aspects must be taken into consideration.
Firstly, Velasquez is a fighter that possesses tremendous stamina, arguably one of the best gas tanks in the heavyweight division, and also a vicious kickboxing game. If Lesnar comes into this Saturday's fight with the same game plan he went in with against Carwin, it could prove to be a rather long night for the hulking heavyweight superstar.
Velasquez is not going to get tired in this fight. That is one thing I can say for sure. Velasquez is a fighter who fights with more than just himself on the line, he personally feels as though he represents an entire ethnicity, what with his Brown Pride tattoo, and he will go the extra mile to make sure that he wins this fight partially because of that.
Lesnar is coming into the fight only representing himself. If he loses, he collects his money and goes back to the drawing board. If Velasquez loses, on the other hand, he runs the risk of letting down an entire race of people. This can either burn him out or be an incredible inspiration for him.
Although Velasquez has demonstrated great striking techniques, he has also been shown to have limited punching power with his ground and pound from the mount. He can be quite annoying but he doesn't really have the kind of punching power that an animal like Carwin has.
So what we have here is a ground and pound style that can set up submissions and that can score points or open up cuts primarily. Brock has shown to be able to be cut open fairly easily, sustaining cuts against Randy Couture and against Carwin; although realistically I don't see Velasquez spending much time in the mounted position against Brock Lesnar.
Lesnar's wrestling is just too solid. I will be surprised to see Velasquez even take Lesnar down in this fight, seeing as how Lesnar has a 40-pound weight advantage and Lesnar looks in the best shape of his MMA career.
Secondly, Brock Lesnar has changed up his training camp some what by getting rid of Greg Nelson and adding Pat Berry into his camp. The only possible reason I can think of for bringing Berry into his camp is to help him work on his standup, but this might have been a misstep considering that Berry was out-boxed by an over-the-hill Mirko Cro Cop and then submitted.
Berry is a good guy, but he might not push Brock hard enough in training to get him prepared. If there is one thing that can be said about Lesnar though it is that the man does his homework. After getting submitted by Frank Mir, it was obvious in their second fight that Lesnar knew exactly how to escape leg locks.
This fact leads me to believe that after getting his jaw jacked by Carwin, Lesnar probably decided to learn as much as he can about boxing before he steps back into that cage again. The only question is, was getting knocked on his ass enough to make him learn how to box, or does he require suffering a loss in order to find motivation to self-improve?
On the other hand, if Lesnar spends the whole fight with Velasquez trying to work a half-assed new-found boxing game, he might end up losing the fight by decision.
In conclusion, I think that if Velasquez wins, it is going to be by decision after a five-round, riding around on his bicycle, kick-and-jab fest. If Lesnar wins, it is going to be by cage wall-mauling after a steamrolling double-leg takedown and ground and pound from hell.
In order for Velasquez to win he has to prevent Lesnar from taking him down and score points all night long. Velasquez needs to forget about grappling with Lesnar and just use his wrestling to get back to his feet and avoid being taken down. If Lesnar wants to win, he needs to close the distance and find a way to take Velasquez down similar to what he did to Mir.
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