UFC 146 Results: Why Cain Velasquez Needs Another Win to Earn a Title Shot
Even before Cain Velasquez could finish toweling off from the bloodbath that was his first-round TKO victory in the co-main event of UFC 146, pundits and fans were clamoring for a return match with heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos.
"That man's ready for another shot at the title!" screamed broadcaster Mike Goldberg, as Velasquez stood placidly while a small army of attendants wiped Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva's blood from his face, arms and back.
Was the carnage Velasquez visited upon Silva impressive? Yes. Does he deserve a title shot? Yes, he does. And I'll even go you one better—I think Velasquez can defeat Junior dos Santos in a rematch.
But I still don't think Cain's next engagement should be for the heavyweight strap. I think he needs to fight at least one more time. Here are five reasons why.
Antonio Silva Is an Unknown UFC Quantity
Silva (now 16-4 overall, 0-1 in the UFC) is a quality heavyweight. But he might not be ready for the deep end of MMA's major league.
Bigfoot's win over Fedor Emelianenko would be a feather in any fighter's cap. But Emelianenko is also a diminished fighter—no two ways about it.
And if you look at Silva's victim list, it's not exactly awe-inspiring. Mike Kyle? Another diminished fighter in Andrei Arlovski? Ruben Villareal? Murderer's Row it ain't. On the other side, Silva has never performed well against the true cream of the crop. Daniel Cormier knocked him out. Fabricio Werdum decisioned him (and more on him in a second).
I just don't know that I would automatically assume Silva is a UFC title contender based on his body of work leading into last night. That's probably why he was originally scheduled to face Roy Nelson, not the world's second-best heavyweight in Velasquez.
Dos Santos Kind of Beat Him Pretty Bad in Their First Fight
It's not an ancillary detail. You might like it to be. But it isn't.
Just six months ago, Junior dos Santos knocked Cain Velasquez into next week to capture the title. Again, that was six months ago.
A lot of people have come dangerously close to implying that the knockout was lucky. Yes, Cain Velasquez simply got caught. Yes, it happened suddenly. Yes, it happened in such a way that it prevented Velasquez from unfurling his own offense.
But that punch wasn't lucky. Junior dos Santos knocked out Cain Velasquez in one minute and four seconds. Those are the facts. No shaky judges' decision. No freaky eye poke. No controversial stoppage. So to my mind, there's nothing fluky about that win. Therefore, no glaring need to rush the two fighters back into a rematch as if some wrong occurred that needs to be righted. Dos Santos won and Velasquez lost. If Velasquez wants another shot, great. But I see no reason why he should get a shortcut.
I previously suggested Velasquez should face the winner between Mike Russow and Fabricio Werdum. There was some blowback on that one, under the logic that it was an insult to offer that winner to Velasquez instead of instantly giving him the title shot.
You may have surmised that I see it differently. I think a suggestion that these two fighters are below Velasquez is an insult to two proven UFC winners.
Both of those guys—especially Werdum—are superior to Silva. Russow is 15-1 (1) and 4-0 in the UFC. Werdum (15-5-1, 3-2 UFC) has beaten Silva. He has also beaten Emelianenko and has a split with Alistair Overeem. In his last fight, he brutalized Roy Nelson, a fighter who went the distance with Dos Santos (a feat that looks more impressive all the time).
So let me get this straight: It's an insult to suggest Velasquez should slum it with either of these two guys, but a win over a fighter who is 16-4 and now 0-1 in the UFC is enough to fast-track him back to a title bout with no further questions asked?
Sorry. I don't see it. With a win in their next fight, either Russow or Werdum will have proven they belong in the title discussion.
Call it Frankie Edgar syndrome.
UFC fans seem conditioned lately to these entropic and drawn-out title series. The Edgar-B.J. Penn series was followed by Edgar-Gray Maynard. Edgar-Benson Henderson is now in the offing. Along the same lines, you've got a Nick Diaz-Carlos Condit-GSP love triangle shaping up at welterweight.
I see that Dos Santos and Velasquez are kind of in a class by themselves at this point. But not every title fight demands an immediate or semi-immediate rematch. Just because a rematch doesn't happen tomorrow doesn't mean it won't happen. If Velasquez truly merits a rematch, and if Dos Santos is truly the great champion he appears to be, neither man will be afraid to prove it by being asked to perform the task they work toward and are paid to do. Fans shouldn't be afraid of this, either. In fact...
Patience Is a Virtue
Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or, eh, something like that.
Junior dos Santos is 27. Cain Velasquez is 29. These two guys are going be around for a while. So what's the rush? We all know they'll see each other again. Why not give them a chance to measure themselves against some of the other great fighters in the division?
Remember the buildup that happened when Chuck Liddell finally got that rematch with Tito Ortiz? I realize the circumstances were different, but it's still a good example of the great anticipation that can build when you let some time elapse.
Chael Sonnen came about as close to winning a belt as you can without actually winning it. But did they rush a rematch between him and Anderson Silva? Nope. Sonnen had to earn his way back. And earn his way back he did, with strong and exciting wins over Michael Bisping and Brian Stann. Now Silva-Sonnen II is the most anticipated fight of 2012.
This heavyweight rivalry could be one for the ages. What's the big rush to consummate it? Let the thing breathe. Let these two men circle each other for a while. Let them beat other guys in the division. Let it ripen. I promise you: Some things are worth taking extra time to do them right.