Can Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos Become MMA's Greatest Rivalry?

Dustin FilloyFeatured ColumnistJune 11, 2013

HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 20:  (L-R) UFC Fighters Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos stand for the cameras during the UFC on Fox: Velasquez v Dos Santos - Press Conference at W Hollywood on September 20, 2011 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

Few fans can resist the lure of watching skilled heavyweights do battle in the Octagon.

Perhaps that's why the trilogy between UFC heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez and the company's former champ, Junior dos Santos, could represent the most hyped grudge match in promotional historyparticularly if the bout takes place in a stadium in Mexico.

Roughly 13.5 months after ending up on the wrong end of a thunderous right hand from dos Santos at UFC on Fox 1, Velasquez exacted his revenge and handed "Cigano" a brutal thrashing at UFC 155.

Using his superior wrestling prowess, a non-stop motor and underrated striking chops, Velasquez thumped Cigano, notching a unanimous decision win while awarding himself a late Christmas gift.

In tasting victory, Velasquez forcefully regained the UFC heavyweight strap that he previously held from October 2010 to November 2011.

Ciagno, who unleashed a highlight-reel spinning heel kick knockout to stop the hype train of Mark Hunt in his last bout at UFC 160, remains the lone man to top Velasquez. In fact, only three of the UFC's top-ranked heavyweightsAlistair Overeem, Travis Browne and Daniel Cormier—can claim to have never tasted defeat against dos Santos or Velasquez.

In their initial meeting, Cigano used a barrage of vicious punches to dispatch of the former Arizona State University wrestler in just 64 seconds at the first installment of the UFC on Fox.

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But following the first of a pair of bloody wins over Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva, Velasquez made the most in his rematch against dos Santos, pummeling the Brazilian from the opening bell to the closing horn to recapture his belt.

Now, with dos Santos once again the clear-cut No. 1 contender at heavyweight, fans will likely get treated to a rubber match similarly epic to that of the completion of classic UFC trilogies like Chuck Liddell vs. Randy Couture and Georges St-Pierre vs. Matt Hughes.

In an interview with USA Today's Ben Fowlkes, UFC president Dana White all but confirmed the suspicion that Cigano and Velasquez would do battle for a third time in the promotion's next heavyweight title fight.

No-brainer. If there was ever a trilogy, that's it right there. If you look at the way both fights went–Junior destroys (Velasquez) in the first fight, Cain destroys (dos Santos) in the second fight–I can't wait to see the third fight.

By executing his pressure-heavy game plan in their rematch, Velasquez shocked dos Santos and set the stage for a tantalizing third fight.

The last pair of heavyweights that locked horns for a third time in the Octagon were Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski in 2006. Sylvia and Arlovski put on a trio of less than memorable performances, and their rivalry fittingly got forgotten when more talented big men like dos Santos and Velasquez began emerging.

Akin to the rivalries between Liddell and Couture and St-Pierre and Hughes, the unpredictable nature of their conflict will make a third fight between Cigano and Velasquez seem downright irresistible. 


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