Photo courtesy of mma30.com/blog
Breakdown: "After I beat Cain Velasquez's ass I'm going to drink a Corona and eat a burrito for his heritage."
And with that, the most epict fight in UFC heavyweight history begins. A battle between the MMA's biggest pay-per-view draw and a Mexican-American fighter who, as we've been told a million times, has the hopes and dreams of an entire civilization riding on his back. It's a massive fight to be sure, a clash between possibly the most skilled all-around heavyweight in MMA history, and a man who is more rhinoceros than human being.
Let's start with Cain, because there is a lot to discuss. The undefeated challanger is definitely a prodigy. His mental toughness and attitude are incredible, which is why he got the reputation as a "workout warrior" and "future champ" almost the second he stepped inside the American Kickboxing Academy. Mixing great wrestling with a high energy output that most larger heavyweights simply can't keep up with, Velasquez has been able to rocket to the top of the division after only 8 fights. Despite all of that good stuff, I can't help but think some people are getting a little too caught up in the hype. His strengths are absolutely his wrestling and tenaciousness, which is how he has beaten all but one of his opponents, yet that lone KO on Minotauro Nogueira has everyone gushing about his standup. Does he have good striking ability and punching power? Yes. Is it as good as advertised? Not even close. Velasquez dominated Cheick Kongo (who has awful takedown defense by the way) for three rounds but couldn't put him away. He pummeled Ben Rothwell for a round and a half and couldn't put him away (the official ruling was a TKO, but Rothwell was completely fine, the fight was stopped because Rothwell was taking a beating and it "looked" pretty bad, not because the lights were going off). The Nogueira fight was an outlier, a case of one fighter just getting caught. Cain doesn't have the boxing of dos Santos or the power of Carwin. His strength comes from his all-around completeness and this endless cardio everyone keeps raging about. Problem is, he can't even use his gas-tank if he's laying on his back.
The question is: Can skill overcome the Brock Less Monster? It's a tough case to make. If Cain can't finish Kongo or Rothwell, does he really have a chance at stopping Lesnar. especially when Carwin couldn't? Probably not. Which means to win, Velasquez will have to survive five rounds with a man who is at least 30 pounds heavier and just as, if not more, quick and athletic. And let's get one thing clear, when Lesnar wants to take you down, you close your eyes and wish for the best. It's almost implausible to think a NCAA Champion wrestler with a body like a Ford-F150 won't be able to take down and control a fighter who could probably cut down to 205 if he laid off the tacos.
Prediction: From reading other predictions, I know I'm in the minority here, but I just don't think a man of Cain's size will be able to stop Lesnar from pancaking him. Velasquez is a rare talent and will hold the belt one day. But that day is not Saturday night. Lesnar is just too un-humanly athletic and strong to be denied takedowns for a full five rounds. Lesnar will get top-position eventually and Cain won't have an escape. Lesnar by TKO in Rnd 2, and it will probably be easier than most think.
Aftermath: Junior dos Santos gets Lesnar next, which depending on his takedown defense, may or may not be a death sentence. For Velasquez, probably Frank Mir, and a short climb back to the top of the mountain.