There is an epic matchup on the horizon in the UFC heavyweight division that could mark the beginning of a new era in mixed martial arts. The ingredients have come together to create the perfect recipe of action for a one-of-a-kind event.
Never before in the history of MMA has a UFC event taken place on network television. Now this Saturday night, the UFC and FOX will showcase the UFC Heavyweight Championship free on live television for the entire world to see.
Heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez will look to defend his title against one of the most dangerous strikers the division has seen in quite some time, if ever. Junior Dos Santos is a wrecking machine with the heart of a saint, but a talent for war that makes him extremely lethal inside the Octagon.
Dos Santos is coming for the title secured tightly around the waist of Velasquez. It has become his life's dream to attain it, and now this weekend he will have his chance. He will have his chance in a matchup that is extremely closely contested on paper.
These two heavyweights have unique skill sets yet share many similar qualities. Devastating striking, speed, agility, tremendous heart combined with equal desire to become or remain champion.
There are no “gimmes” in this matchup.
That is reflected heavily in the respect shared by American Kickboxing Academy teammates for the UFC No. 1 heavyweight contender known as “Cigano”. That respect was conveyed to Todd Jackson of Hurtsbad MMA when he sat down to speak with AKA head coach Javier Mendez.
Mendez spoke to Hurtsbad about exactly what he sees when he and his champion study Dos Santos, and how they think they can offset what he brings to the table on November 12th when the UFC heavyweight title will be contested on FOX.
So what exactly does AKA's Javier Mendez and Cain Velasquez see when they look across the Octagon at Dos Santos?
“I see an incredible challenge in front of Cain. And if we disrespect Dos Santos one bit we are going to end up in a bad situation,” Mendez told Hurtsbad.
That respect is reflected in the coaching staff and in the champion. That respect has become the platform for a specific game plan to retain that title. “There is no way in hell we are going to disrespect how great Junior Dos Santos is. Based on the fact that Cain respects him as much as we all do, we are going to have the right mind set and the right game plan to implement when the fight starts.”
One obvious threat that clearly must be accounted for is the precision and power striking of Dos Santos. Yet there is an unknown which is also on the minds of those prepping the champ. “He is definitely by far the best striker we have yet to face. The thing about Junior is because he has never been to the ground you don't even know how good his ground game is.”
Javier sees potential for “Cigano” to perform where many might overlook possible strengths. “His ground game from what I hear is pretty decent. By pretty decent I'm talking about over a year ago. If you're looking at it like Cain, a year from now if you're training you're a lot better than you were.”
Many would call Dos Santos a dangerous striker. But Javier sees more than that as far as what “Cigano” can threaten his champion with.
“I look at Junior as a total picture of an MMA fighter. He has got the heart and the desire to be a champion. It is just my opinion that having Cain ready for the challenge it is not going to be Junior's day.”
Having Cain ready for the challenge is exactly what the staff at AKA have been working towards since his return from surgery earlier this year. They have been sharpening the edge of one of the most dangerous blades in the heavyweight division.
Cain Velasquez is as real as it gets, and Javier has no reservations whatsoever when describing exactly what he sees in his own student, a man he has honed into from rising star to UFC heavyweight champ.
Javier told Todd Jackson, “You're still looking at a kid who is improving vastly. He is improving all the time. And with Junior, you guys are going to see another Cain Velasquez, again not the best but a better Cain Velasquez than he has been in awhile because that is just the way it is with him.”
Mendez continually gave credit where it was due to the challenger. With a threat like Dos Santos, all bases must be covered, all scenarios planned for. But his pride and belief in Cain lies in the fact that he has watched this young fighter grow and evolve.
Simply put, Mendez does not see that this evolution has even come close to completion. So with all the threats that Dos Santos brings into the cage with him on fight night, Mendez feels that we are about to see a new Cain Velasquez, a sharper champ, a more lethal heavyweight on his way to even further greatness.
As unbelievable as that sounds, it is very very true if you know who to ask. And more so than that, it is extremely scary for any man walking this planet looking to earn that UFC heavyweight strap.