Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos: 15 Things You Need To Know
Cain Velasquez woke up Sunday morning as the UFC Heavyweight Champion following his thorough demolition of Brock Lesnar.
Though the new 265-pound king might be able to enjoy a day of football in full-fledged relaxation mode, he'll have to get back to the grind soon enough. Nope, there's no rest for the weary if you fancy yourself a warrior and you can bet Velasquez considers himself to be very much that.
At least, I hope he does because the rest of the mixed martial arts world certainly does and rightly so.
The 28-year-old who was born in Salinas, Calif., met Brock's challenge head on, literally. The bull of a man came stampeding across the Octagon to start the scrap, but Velasquez didn't cower.
Instead, he turned away the first advance. Even when the former NCAA champion managed to take Cain to the ground, Velasquez sprung back to his feet with jaw-dropping ease.
Then he actually took Lesnar to the ground after softening him up with some smart bombs during an extended and violent standing exchange. From there, the end was a formality as the former title-holder was on the blinking defensive until Herb Dean saved him from further carnage.
But, now that the celebration is petering out and Velasquez returns to the reality of his accomplishment, it's time to confront the next challenge standing in his way—a future date with No. 1 contender, Junior dos Santos.
Here are 15 things you need to know about the next heavyweight championship bout:
No. 15—Cain Velasquez Has an Bottomless Gas Tank
That's a shot of Cain Velasquez entering the Octagon for his title bout with Brock Lesnar.
But it could just as easily be a shot of him leaving the cage after dispatching the former heavyweight king. It looked like the dude didn't even break a sweat despite going at it for over four minutes with one of the biggest men to ever rattle the UFC floorboards.
That seemingly infinite energy reserve is no small asset when every one of his fights from here until he loses the belt will potentially be five-round affairs.
If he can last past the first 10 minutes, you figure he'll have a sizable edge against any insurgent.
No. 14—Cain Velasquez Is the First Mexican Heavyweight Champ...Even If He's Not
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The UFC hype machine spent a good deal of its fuel churning out material touting Cain Velasquez' date with Brock Lesnar as a chance for the first Mexican heavyweight champion, the implication being the first in either MMA or boxing.
Well, it's been correctly pointed out in the wake of his victory that (A) Velasquez isn't actually Mexican, he's of Mexican descent; and (B) Ricco Rodriguez won the UFC heavyweight championship at UFC 39 in 2002. This latter detail is relevant because Suave is also of Mexican descent.
So, exactly why the angle was chosen and beaten to death is a little puzzling, but there it is.
No. 13—Junior dos Santos Is Brazilian
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See how silly that looks without the context created by promotional ploys?
I still fail to see the rationale behind the "Mexican champ" campaign, but oh well. Water under the bridge and all that.
No. 12—Cain Velasquez Is Undefeated
Velasquez' professional dossier isn't that extensive, but what it lacks for in length it more than makes up for in brilliance.
Adding his technical knockout of Brock Lesnar to the list, that makes eight knockouts of some variety in nine contests.
The only non-stoppage was a unanimous decision domination over Cheick Kongo, but he's finished both Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and the reigning heavyweight champ since that "blemish" (as well as Ben Rothwell, but he hardly seems worthy of mention next to the other two).
And, yes, the more astute observers have noticed I neglected any mention of a loss.
Because Cain doesn't have one.
No. 11—Junior dos Santos Has But One Loss
And that ain't it.
Junior dos Santos can't quite match Cain Velasquez' flawless record, but he comes as close as possible. In a 13-fight career, JDS has lost only a single bout and that was a rematch against Joaquim Ferreira; dos Santos won the first tete-a-tete when his opponent submitted due to exhaustion.
In a fight of this magnitude, the defeat might actually work to the Brazilian's advantage since he won't have the additional crushing weight of maintaining perfection compounding the pressure of the moment.
No. 10—Prepare Yourself for a Stand-Up War
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Cain Velasquez has eight knockouts in nine bouts and his last two lights-out have earned him Knockout of the Night bonuses.
Junior dos Santos, meanwhile, has eight knockouts in 12 career wins plus two more submissions directly caused by his sinister strikes. Stoppages of Gabriel Gonzaga and Fabricio Werdum entered Cigano his own bonuses for Knockouts of the Night.
Additionally, JDS has a perfect kickboxing record of 18 wins and zero losses.
So strap it on before tuning into these fireworks.
No. 9—But Don't Be Surprised If They Roll
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Having extolled their striking virtues to the point of indignity, it's time to mention that neither gladiator is a one-trick pony.
Cain Velasquez was a decorated collegiate wrestler at Arizona State University and he just showed he had the chops to meet Brock Lesnar in the latter's favorite milieu. In fact, you could argue that it was Cain's takedown of the former champ that signaled the beginning of the end to his reign.
For his part, Junior dos Santos hasn't demonstrated his brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but only because his striking has been so destructive that he hasn't had to use it.
The upshot is that both athletes have well-rounded pedigrees in theory and, depending on how the hostilities unfold, that theory may be put to the test.
No. 8—Junior dos Santos Will Have Revenge on His Mind
Junior dos Santos received his brown belt in BJJ and trains with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Cain Velasquez absolutely obliterated Minotauro at UFC 110 in Australia.
JDS can't have enjoyed watching his mentor and friend go down in a bloody heap at the hands of another then-contender at 265 pounds. Now, he'll have his chance to exact a measure of retribution while also getting his hands on the heavyweight title.
No. 7—Father Time Should Not Be a Factor
One thing that nobody ever talked about regarding Brock Lesnar was his age—at 33, the big fella wasn't exactly ancient, but he wasn't a spring chicken either.
When he clashed with Cain Velasquez, he was giving away five years. Now, that's no huge margin and, considering what Randy Couture has done, you can argue that age ain't nothin' but a number. However, the harsh reality is that the number catches up with everyone sooner or later.
That's not to say it necessarily played any part in the outcome of UFC 121, it's just to emphasize that the ticking of the clock must be considered at the very least when there's a significant discrepancy.
In this case, there's no such consideration—Velasquez is 28 while Junior dos Santos is 26. Both are smack dab in their physical primes (more or less) and close enough in age that the difference is immaterial.
No. 6—The Tale of the Tape Is a Close One
With Brock Lesnar involved in the last few title bouts, the subject of size has figured prominently in most pre-fight discussions, debates, and prognostications. That's natural when at least one of the entrants is an apparent freak of nature.
But with Lesnar licking his wounds, we return to a world of semi-normalcy.
Cain Velasquez is big, but he's not "what the hell is THAT" big; the new champ checks in at 6' 1" and 245 pounds give or take some water weight with a 77" reach. Junior dos Santos tips the scales at 6' 4" and 240 pounds with the same range.
The two men are separated by a mere three vertical inches, five lateral pounds, and deadlocked when it comes to reach. In other words, even Steven.
No. 5—The Title Clash May Signal a Changing of the Guard
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Once upon a time, the UFC Heavyweight division was the red-headed step-child of the organization. It was a watered down version of the other classes—it was during this period that Hall of Famer Randy Couture returned from retirement and remained perched atop the 265-pounders despite his comparably slight stature and advancing age.
Until Brock Lesnar mashed him into the canvas, that is.
But even Brock represented something of a weakness in the division.
After all, gigantaur or not, this was a guy with three pro fights to his name—even a body brimming with talent should need to hone them more finely through experience before donning the crown.
Well, those days are all but gone—Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos, and the new crop of heavyweights are getting younger, stronger, more versatile, and more technically dangerous by the day.
When the Heavyweight Champion and Cigano square off, it might just herald the official end of the old(er) guard's sway.
No. 4—Either AKA or Blackhouse Will Walk Away with Another Big Win
When Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos enter the Octagon for their title bout, they'll carry more than just their personal ambitions with them.
They'll also be representing to of the premiere MMA gyms in the business today.
Cain Velasquez is suddenly the most prominent member of the American Kickboxing Academy, a stable that boasts studs like Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck, and Mike Swick as well as Strikeforce's Cung Le and Josh Thomson.
That's a glittering array, but Black House is the gold standard here:
—UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva
—WEC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo
—Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Rafael Cavalcante
—Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Ronaldo Souza
—All-time great Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
—Former UFC light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida
When the dust settles, Blackhouse will either have another fighter rocking the belt or AKA's stock will rise yet again.
No. 3—Wrestling Will Get Yet Another Turn in the Spotlight
In the beginning, there was Royce Gracie and Brazilian jiu-jitsu—the lethal combination of a highly trained 175-pound and a discipline nobody took that seriously forced an evolution across the sport. Strikers of all types began to practice in the art or some defensive derivation.
Then the action stagnated so the UFC changed its rules, introduced mandatory gloves, and striking returned to the fore.
And now we seem to be in the midst of another evolution—mixed martial artists with extensive wrestling backgrounds preside over the lightweight, welterweight, and heavyweight divisions.
Only PRIDE holdovers Anderson Silva and Mauricio Rua buck the trend as Middleweight and Light Heavyweight Champions, respectively.
What's more, many of the top contenders across the sport are decorated mat-rats.
Cain Velasquez takes wrestling back onto center stage when he clashes with the grappler/striker Junior dos Santos.
No. 2—The Winner Won't Get to Cool His Heels for Long
Whoever survives what promises to be an epic battle in Cain Velasquez' first title defense against the barbarian at the gate, Junior dos Santos, there will be no extended honeymoon.
The UFC heavyweight division is getting stronger by the second it seems, and there is no shortage of eager beavers looking for that belt.
You know Brock Lesnar will be champing at the bit to get back on the horse. Shane Carwin suddenly has a persuasive argument for another swing at the brass (or gold) ring.
Roy Nelson's supporters would take on volume—in both senses—should Big Country add Carwin's pelt to his wall.
And this can go on depending on your horizon.
No. 1—It's a Good Time to Be a Fan
Regardless of what happens when Cain Velasquez meets Junior dos Santos, it will mark the third consecutive blockbuster bout pitting heavyweight champion against the No. 1 contender on merit.
I don't think that's every happened in the organization's history.
What's more, the state of the division essentially guarantees that we'll get a fourth and maybe even a fifth plus the fun of heirs to the throne sorting themselves out.
The only dark cloud is that the fights can't happen fast enough.
But that's a pretty nice problem to have.