Headlining the lackluster UFC 155 card, Cain Velasquez came to Las Vegas with revenge on his mind. Facing the man who had beaten him for the title at the inaugural UFC on Fox show, Velasquez was counted out by many in the rematch against Junior Dos Santos. A violent punching machine with fast hips and a rock-hard head, Junior Dos Santos hadn’t found himself in a lick of trouble since coming to the UFC, and considering he’d dispatched Velasquez in under a minute last time out, it was hard to imagine anything had changed.
Well, things had changed.
Charging into the fray, Velasquez was on JDS immediately, working long punches and fast shots on the champion. While success wasn’t initially there for the challenger, JDS showed a weakness for the first time ever, being winded early in the very first round due to the frantic pacing his opponent was setting. With Velasquez fighting on a higher gear, he battered JDS standing, hit repeated takedowns and worked his opponent over from wall to wall for five rounds.
Any questions about the heart of Cain Velasquez were answered definitively with the win, but answers about his next opponent were less clear. Below, we’ll look at Velasquez many options for his next title defense and how the odds would stack up.
Cain Velasquez vs. Alistair Overeem:
Coming off of a suspended license for high T levels, Overeem will be facing Big Foot for a chance at claiming the UFC Heavyweight Championship, and isn’t likely to lose the fight. Having come from Pride as a lanky kickboxer, Overeem has put in a great deal of gym time to first turn into a serious grappling competitor, and later into a juggernaut of humanity in the Heavyweight division. Having some of the hardest knees and punches in the sport, Overeem has blasted through the competition in both MMA and K-1 for the last several years and by many counts may be unstoppable.
Any fight with Overeem is dicey simply for the fact he can implode your sternum or knock your head off in one shot, yet it’s often forgotten he has a well-earned reputation of having a glass jaw. In MMA and kickboxing, Overeem has been knocked out cold more than a few times, and while his allegedly chemically-altered physique has kept some heavy hitters at bay in fear, Velasquez isn’t one of them. It’ll be a very short fight but Velasquez can launch an attack to flatten Overeem before getting flattened himself; Using speed over brawn to keep his title.
Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio “Big Foot” Silva 2
Big Foot +160
A less likely pairing, but with a win over Travis Browne and a heroic effort against Alistair Overeem, this could be exactly the fight we see in a few months time. Antonio Silva is a true heavyweight with a high degree of grappling functionality for a big man and has seldom been out of a fight except against the most world-class of world class fighters. His last fight with Velasquez showed his one and only true weakness, that being a very hittable chin and a habit of being hurt early in fights, yet his freakish strength and own KO power could well carry him here if Velasquez misses the mark early and burns himself out working his wrestling technique on Big Foot. I wouldn’t count on it so much though, as Velasquez accuracy is exactly what’s put him on the map today, and another lopsided beating could be in order if this bout takes place again.
Cain Velasquez vs. Fabricio Werdum:
Some shuffling and injury would have to occur to make the timing of this work, but with Werdum looking solid in his SF and UFC career thus far, this is a marketable fight with danger for both men. Werdum brings a lifetime of BJJ training and some deceptively lethal muay thai to the cage, in the frame larger than Velasquez own. While he’s shown defensively holes in his game in the past, Werdum is a man devoted to constant improvement and possess deceptive speed as well that could potentially match Velasquez on fleet-footed attacks. While I’d have to give an edge to Velasquez to outwork Werdum and pick where the fight takes place, Werdum is about as veteran of a fighter as they come and would have many tricks to set this fight in his favor.
Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos 3
Not a fight we’d see this soon without some divine intervention, but provided Overeem can’t fulfill his obligations or is upset by Big Foot, a win from JDS against a quality opponent could put him right back in contention. You might think I’m out of my mind putting JDS as a favorite over Velasquez after the colossal beating Velasquez just put on him, but I truly liked what I saw out of JDS in that fight.
JDS was a man of mystery in many aspects of the fight game leading into their last match, as he’d walked through all of his opposition up until that point. What we learned of JDS in defeat makes him all that much more dangerous when he makes his return. For one thing, he’s nearly impossible to knock out, and there isn’t an ounce of quit in his entire body. This shows that bouncing back from the loss won’t be such an issue and we know it’ll take an inhuman amount of punishment to put him out of a fight. The most impressive aspect of JDS is his core strength though. Even when completely gassed out, Dos Santo’s base was still intact to defend takedowns in the fourth and fifth round which is almost unheard of in the realm of fighting.
In short, what we saw was the best Velasquez there is versus the worst JDS. If JDS can come into the rubber match with five rounds of cardio, he’s tipped the scales into his favor, as he’s the harder puncher with the proven chin. It could be a FOTY contender, but rubber match goes to JDS in my book.
This is a fight that will “never happen”, exactly like Rashad Evans vs. Jon Jones and Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz, yet money talks and shit happens in the world of fighting. Though they’re training partners now, Cormier would be granted an immediate title shot if he asked and would make for a great opponent to the younger protégé. With his own set of kickboxing skills and Olympic level wrestling, Cormier makes for a tough fight here, yet his lack of size as a heavyweight, particularly his short wingspan make him ill-suited to slug it out with Velasquez. Being stuck trying to close distance to work his magic, I could see Cain Velasquez dishing out more punishment than Cormier can handle and grinding his old friend down over the course of several rounds, snatching a TKO win.