Cain Velasquez Vs. Junior Dos Santos: The Next Big Rivalry in the UFC?

Junior “Cigano” dos Santos needed only 64 seconds to dethrone then heavyweight champion, Cain Velasquez, on Nov. 12, 2011 at “UFC on Fox,” dropping the Mexican American with a wicked overhand right. He followed up with some ground-n-pound, forcing referee John McCarthy to stop the action.

Velasquez (11-1-0, 9 KOs) immediately asked for a rematch, but many MMA fans didn’t think it was a good idea, considering how effortless dos Santos (15-2-0, 11 KOs) made the victory look.

Junior went on to demolish Frank Mir at UFC 146 — he was originally scheduled to fight Alistair Overeem — while Velasquez mauled Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva on the same card.

Overeem lost his opportunity to fight dos Santos because of a failed pre-fight drug test (his samples showed elevated testosterone levels), but many UFC fans still considered him as the number-one contender in the promotion’s heavyweight division.

When UFC president Dana White announced Cain would get the next shot at Junior, loads of folks still fantasized about the dos Santos-Overeem matchup, assuming Cigano would make quick work out of Velasquez.

Apparently, Cain didn’t get the memo.

Velasquez claimed an ACL injury hindered his performance at UFC on Fox (dos Santos said he had a knee injury as well), and his performance on Dec. 29 validates his claim.

He didn’t even look like the same guy who faced dos Santos in 2011.

While Cain was tentative during his first bout against Junior, he didn’t hold back at UFC 155. He aggressively stalked dos Santos from start to finish, showing no respect for the Brazilian’s punching power.

He even broke the myth surrounding dos Santos’ impregnable takedown defense.

Coming into their rematch, dos Santos had only spent a total of 13 seconds on his back in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. However, Velasquez took Cigano down at will at UFC 155, roughing him up against the cage and on the ground. He won every single round on all three official scorecards, reclaiming the heavyweight title a little over a year after his first — and only — loss as a professional MMA fighter.

“It feels very good,” Velasquez said during his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan. “I know he’s going to come back stronger, so I have to get better. That’s the name of the game, I have to get better. It feels so good to get the victory.”

Dos Santos was actually really good at getting back to his feet, but he just didn’t have any answers for Cain’s takedown. He was forced to play defense the entire fight, hence the lopsided decision.

White revealed during the post-fight press conference that dos Santos won’t get an automatic rematch — which seems like a smart idea. It’ll give Junior more time to figure out how to deal with Velazquez’ wrestling, which he clearly wasn’t prepared for at UFC 155.

While it’s easy to make an argument that Cain’s knee injury played a role in how things went down at UFC on Fox, dos Santos would have probably won their first fight regardless of how healthy the Mexican American was. He simply landed a nice shot, which as we all know, is all it takes to win a fight in MMA.

Cain was the better man at UFC 155, but it wouldn’t be wise to count Junior out if they end up meeting for a third time. Velasquez simply made the right adjustments, and it’s now dos Santos’ turn to figure out what went wrong.

“Cain Velasquez, like you said, I’m going to come back and take my belt again,” Junior said shortly after the fight.

It’s still a little early to tell, but dos Santos vs. Velasquez might just be the next big rivalry in the UFC.

David is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and boxing practitioner who has watched and studied MMA for the past 7 years. Follow him on Twitter @davidkingwriter and check out his blog.


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