Cain Velasquez and Five Fights That Proved Size Doesn't Matter (Video)
Cain Velasquez is smart, strong, has amazing cardio, is a skilled wrestler, a powerful striker, and completely dwarfed by his UFC 121 opponent in Brock Lesnar.
Lesnar isn't just big, however; he's talented as well.
The question most of us are asking isn't whether Brock will win, but if it is even possible for Velasquez to win. Though this is a very important dilemma, it is hardly a new one. Sure, we know big fighters impose their will on smaller guys all the time, but how about when it's the other way around?
Sometimes I think we forget that MMA is just as much about technique and luck as it is about athleticism, strength, and size. For every Goliath, there is a David.
Is Cain Velasquez the David of Brock Lesnar? We won't know for sure for a couple of hours, but there are plenty of cases to support that he just might be.
Here are five fights that proved why size doesn't matter.
Number 5: Baby J Moves Into The Big Leagues
Matt Hughes is rightly considered one of the greatest welterweights of all time. When he faced BJ Penn at UFC 46: Supernatural, he was not just considered one of the best but the best of all time. His status as a champion went beyond his own weight class, as he became a fixture on MMA's multiple pound-for-bound rankings.
BJ Penn on the other hand was moving up in weight class from the lightweight division after defeating Takanori Gomi and returning to the UFC. Most thought that Hughes was too big and too good to lose to a lightweight like Penn.
At this point in his career Hughes had 38 fights under his belt in comparison to BJ's eight, so from all angles, this looked like another victory for Hughes.
Things changed quickly though. When the fight started, everything quickly began to tumble out of control for Hughes. He was beaten on the feet and on the ground, and he submitted. Penn proved that you don't have to be big, all you have to be is good.
Video: BJ Penn - The Prodigy (Fight starts at 3:01)
Number 4: The Roles Are Reversed
Frank Edgar entered UFC 112 in the same position BJ Penn had entered UFC 46. He was up against a man considered to be the best lightweight of all time who hadn't been defeated in the division in over eight years. Everything Edgar could do was assumed to be done better by BJ.
BJ came into this first fight looking a bit out of it. There was a bit of back and forth throughout the fight, but the decision could've gone either way. At the end of five rounds, Frankie Edgar was the new UFC Lightweight Champion.
Though the ending was controversial, he proved that he was fast enough to get inside Penn's range and do damage, take him down, and manage not to get caught by BJ's offense.
Alas, in there second fight, Penn was totally dominated. Edgar dominated the stand up game, displayed amazing takedowns on BJ even more effectively than GSP had, and controlled the Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt on the ground as well.
Edgar showed that hard work, determination, skill, and a solid game plan could negate the size difference. He was the smaller man, but he fought like he was the size of Brock Lesnar.
Number 3: Too Old and Too Small Triumphs Over Too Big and Too Tall
In 2007 Randy Couture had gone 3-2 in his past five fights, was 43 years old, had been knocked out twice by Chuck Liddell, and yet received a heavyweight title shot at UFC Champion Tim Sylvia.
Couture had been in his fair share of fights but this one seemed to be a long shot. Sylvia stood eight inches above Couture and held a whopping 50-pound weight advantage over him.
At the time Sylvia was also on a six-fight win streak against much larger competition than Couture. Two of those wins were against dangerous striker Andre Arlovski, and one against the always-deadly grappling specialist, Jeff Monson.
Nobody doubted Couture could win, but it was assumed it was going to be a grueling war of attrition if he was to do so.
When UFC 68: Uprising launched its main card, the fans were thrown into a whirlwind of action and upsets. Jason Lambert knocked out Babalu Sobral and Martin Kampmann came back after being violently beaten by Drew McFedries, but something was still missing.
Couture filled that piece of the puzzle when he knocked Sylvia down after only eight seconds, and dominated Sylvia for the rest of the fight's five rounds.
Video: A sample of what most of Couture vs. Sylvia looked like
Number 2: How The Spider Got Tangled In Another's Web
Anderson Silva is possibly the greatest fighter in the history of fighting. There might not have been a single person since cavemen began bonking each other with rocks to fight as good as Anderson Silva.
Daiju Takase is possibly one of the most mediocre fighters in the history of fighting. He fought at middleweight and welterweight, but was a natural welterweight which might explain his 9-13 record.
Though his wins aren't numerous, he does have one win on his resume that nobody will ever forget; his victory over Anderson Silva at Pride 26: Bad to the Bone. This fight by all means made no sense.
Anderson was bigger, stronger, more skilled, had beaten better opponents, and actually had a winning record of 9-1. Yet by some miracle, Takase completely dominated the greatest fighter of our times.
Takse did more than submit Anderson; he repeatedly took him down, laid into him with punches once they got there, and maintaining top position nearly the entire time. Anderson underestimated Takase in a way that size, skill, and logic couldn't make up for.
Video: A compilation of Silva vs. Takase from Pride 26
Number 1: The Beast and The Minotaur
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is one of MMA's all-time greatest fighters. Bob Sapp...well he's just one of MMA's fighters. Though Nogueira was outweighed by 150 pounds, as the PRIDE Heavyweight Champion (who was at the time on a 10-fight win streak), he was still the favorite to win this fight.
Sapp had won his first two fights in PRIDE by TKO and was looking to make a name for himself against one of the sports greats, and at the time the arguably pound-for-pound best heavyweight in the world.
The fight got off to an amazing start when Bob Sapp literally powerbombed Nogueira. After that he tossed Nogueira off him effortlessly, gained back mount, slammed him with a barrage of punches, and totally dominated the champion.
Nogueira had clear issues dealing with Sapp's ridiculous weight advantage, and (like most people would be) was still reeling from being powerbombed.
He absorbed sickeningly powerful punches on the ground; punches that probably could've killed a mid-sized elephant. Even getting laid on by such an oaf as Sapp must have been difficult as well.
While Sapp was big, Nog's heart proved to be bigger. He weathered the storm, was able to get Sapp in side control, and finish the fight with an armbar.
As the saying goes, "It's not the size of the dog in the fight that matters. It's the size of the fight in the dog that matters." Having a size advantage certainly is a welcomed advantage, but there are more important aspects to fighting than size.
With the right skills and knowledge, any competent middleweight can take on a heavyweight. Just ask Dan Henderson about his first fight against Big Nog.
Though Cain Velasquez may have a disadvantage going into UFC 121, he has just as much skill as every fighter on this list. He has the potential to dethrone even the biggest and baddest of champions.
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