UFC on FOX November 12, 2011, will not only witness the monumental UFC show on FOX, the promotions first outing on network television since signing a sport changing seven year deal with the No.1 network in the United States, but also feature the biggest UFC Heavyweight Title fight in the history of the sport.
Fact is what makes this battle so intriguing is that literally it is too close to call, so I have my work cut out but I will take a shot and attempt to do so.
Let us start by taking a closer look at both fighters UFC career numbers provided by Fight Metric the official statistics provider of the UFC -
| Velasquez JDS|
|UFC Record ||9-0-0||7-0-0|
|Average Fight Time||04:31||06:17|
|Height || 6' 2" (188 cm) || 6' 3" (191 cm)|
|Weight||245 lb. (111 kg) ||238 lb. (108 kg)|
|Reach|| 77.0" || 77.0"|
STRIKING (Significant Strikes)
|Strikes Landed per Min. (SLpM)||7.05||6.79|
|Strikes Absorbed per Min. (SApM)||1.15||1.99|
|Takedowns Average/15 minutes||6.96||0.9|
|Submission Average/15 minutes||0.66||0|
Most MMA experts would give Junior Dos Santos the edge in the striking due to the "put to sleep power" he carries in those fists winning 4 of 7 fights in the UFC and 8 of 13 MMA career fights, by knockout. Interestingly Cain Velasquez considered to be a lesser striker than Dos Santos, has 6 of his 7 wins in the UFC and 8 of his 9 MMA career wins, by knockout.
Saying that, Dos Santos has fought a higher calibre of striker including Mirko Cro-Cop, Gilbert Yvel and Stefan Struve knocking them all out and making a mockery of Shane Carwin's face in the stand-up on way to a Unanimous Decision victory. Cain got rocked by the best striker he faced in Cheick Kongo, before showing his resilience following up with a takedown and subsequently landing 251 strikes on the way to a Unanimous Decision victory.
Dos Santos in my opinion has better boxing and is superb at keeping the distance and avoiding damage on his feet illustrated by his striking defence of 64%. Velasquez attempts 6.96 average takedowns every 15 minutes with a devastating accuracy of 75%. For Junior, his strength lies in the striking advantage against just about anyone assisted by an incredible takedown defence of 83%.
In terms of stand-up the advantage lies with Dos Santos however, one must point out that the UFC Heavyweight Champion uses more leg-kicks and himself has knockout power illustrated by the knockout of his opponent's idol and Black House MMA team mate, Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira all starting with the same left-hook that was later measured at 2230 lbs of force on ESPN Sport Science, the hardest recorded punch of any boxer or MMA fighter on the show to date. Nonetheless, in fluidity as well as combinations Dos Santos edges Velasquez who in all likelihood will look to get the fight on the ground.
Once in a blue moon in the rare occurrence both fighters have been taken down in their MMA careers, both shown an innate ability to scramble to their feet and either keep it standing avoiding takedowns in the case of the Brazilian, and in taking down the opponent in the case of the former NCAA Division 1 All-American. Dos Santos is yet to face a wrestler of the pedigree of Velasquez, who even took down a superior wrestler in NCAA Division 1 Champion, Brock Lesnar who was unable to keep the Mexican-American down.
If Velasquez shoots in for a takedown he must be careful of eating a huge upper-cut, a trademark of Dos Santos which he used to devastating effect in his last fight against another wrestler in Shane Carwin. If Velasquez scores a takedown look for him to exhibit his relentless brand of ground and pound considering his off the charts cardio, the best in the heavyweight division and probably in the whole UFC. This would point to the fact that the longer the fight goes, the higher the probability of Velasquez to win this being a 5 round championship fight.
To be fair, "Cigano" has never been put on his back and is a Brown-Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu trained by the Nogueira brothers, but will probably spend most of the time practising his takedown defence and scrambling with highly acclaimed wrestler Mark Munoz. It is no secret Dos Santos will look to keep this one standing and point to the fact that Velasquez has never faced a high-level striker of his quality.
So who will win? As they say in the UFC "its time", in my humble opinion the telling factor will be that Cain Velasquez is returning from a 90 percent torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder sustained during his October 23 2010, UFC 121 victory over Lesnar. There is bound to be a level of ring-rust for even someone as professional and well prepared as Velasquez in terms of his striking power and timing as well as, the shoulder power required to exert in forcing a takedown. It is a known fact that shoulder injuries take a long time to heal up, sometimes years and Cain is returning from surgery and 8 month lay-off with no training returning only returning to full training as late as mid-July.
How this disruption will affect the confidence, routine and preparation, both physically as well as mentally of a fighter known to be an obsessive gym fanatic and how he handles this will be critical. As champion, you do not get tune up fights and Velasquez is most certainly is not getting one, an absolute beast in Junior Dos Santos who has been on a tear awaits and my gut feeling says he will make the most of this. Cynically I may even suggest, he may target the shoulder with strikes and elbows especially when Velasquez attempts the takedown.
There is every chance that Cain Velasquez who I admire massively could prove me wrong, but I reckon the Brazilian will edge this one either by Split Decision or by Knockout.
Who do you think will win?