Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos are universally ranked as the two best heavyweights, and therefore fighters, on the planet. Both are 10-1 in the UFC, with their losses coming against each other. Both have ended eight out of ten of their wins inside the distance, and neither have ever had a remotely boring performance. Put together, these factors surely make for one of the greatest trilogies, and one of the most hyped up fights in MMA history.
Except, the hype just isn’t there for their trilogy at UFC 166, as big of a fight as it is.
Velasquez and Dos Santos first met in November 2011 on the UFC’s debut on FOX. The UFC gambled with a single fight on the televised card, and lost, as Velasquez was finished inside 70 seconds by a Dos Santos overhand right. The result was by no means disastrous, but it was not the competitive war people hoped to see.
With respective wins over Frank Mir and Antonio Silva, Dos Santos and Velasquez would rematch at UFC 155 in December 2012. Most felt it was too soon, and besides, Velasquez was knocked out so quickly the first time that few gave him a real chance to win, let alone dominate Dos Santos. And yet, the rematch couldn’t have been more polarizing than the first fight a year prior. Velasquez hurt Dos Santos early in the first round, and spent the remaining 25 minutes putting a beating on the former champion to reclaim his title. Vengeance.
And yet, once again, Dos Santos and Velasquez have earned victories over respectable opponents in Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva to set up a deserved trilogy, but nobody seems to care. So, what’s wrong with this fight?
Maybe it has to do with the heavyweight division being weak overall. There are several challengers on the horizon like Travis Browne and Fabricio Werdum, but none are considered to be in the same league as Dos Santos and Velasquez. After this fight, what’s really going to happen?
Who says how many fights the loser of this fight has to win before he’s earned his way into another title shot? Unfortunately, no matter how this fight goes, it seems bound to happen. Despite each fighter holding a one sided victory over the other, there’s no expectation that this fight will bring finality, even though it has all the potential to be a great fight.
As for how the fight will actually play out, it’s anyone’s guess. Either fighter could score a quick knockout, Velasquez could dominate with his wrestling, or Dos Santos could pick Velasquez apart from the outside. As far as I know after watching two fights, it’s the guy who lands big first that will likely win.
While I do expect Velasquez to pull through with his cardio, wrestling, and underrated standup, I’m not holding my breath. In a fight between the two greatest heavyweights on the planet, anything can happen, and it’s bound to be great. It’s just a great fight that nobody is hyped to see.