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Dos Santos vs Velasquez 2
UFC 155 Heavyweight Title Live
Y! Sports PPV
Date: 29th December 2012
Time: 10 p.m. ET
Where:MGM Grand,Las Vegas
The UFC’s annual year-end show is just around the corner, and this year Santa Claus brought a heavyweight title fight to the top of the bill.
“UFC 155: Dos Santos vs. Velasquez 2″ takes place Saturday at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. In the main event, heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos (15-1 MMA, 9-0 UFC) meets former champ and top contender Cain Velasquez (10-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) for the title.
The heavyweight title is on the line in a rematch of the first-ever UFC on Fox fight. Between rumors that both Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez fought injured in their first encounter and their dismantling of opponents since, perhaps it is fitting that we run this matchup back one more time. UFC 155 “Dos Santos vs. Velasquez 2” will close out the year for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and, as is tradition, it has stacked the card to end with a bang.
Dos Santos took Velasquez’s title from him at UFC on FOX 1 in November 2011. It was Velasquez’s first title defense after winning the belt against Brock Lesnar at UFC 121. Dos Santos defended his title at UFC 146 in May against Frank Mir. Cain Velasquez dominated Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva at the same event to get back to the title fight rematch.
What Will the Heavyweight Landscape Look Like on Sunday?
By the time the dust settles after Saturday’s main event, we’ll either have a new heavyweight champion and the potential for a trilogy fight or we’ll be left wondering how long it will take for Cain Velasquez to escape “The Rich Franklin Zone.”
Those are two very different pictures, and both equally intriguing.
If Junior dos Santos successfully defends his title for a second time, “Cigano” will stamp himself as one of the best the UFC heavyweight division has ever seen. He’ll enter 2013 with two potential challengers left to vanquish – Daniel Cormier and Alistair Overeem – and questions about a superfight with light heavyweight champ Jon Jones start to be asked.
Should the Brazilian retain, Velasquez will face an uphill battle to get back to championship contention. With a pair of losses to dos Santos, he’d likely be out of the running for a third title shot until his nemesis drops the belt and/or he piles up four or five very good victories.
However, if Velasquez is able to avenge the lone loss of his career, the UFC will have the potential to put together a heavyweight championship trilogy bout between the UFC 155 headliners. They could also opt to slot someone into the challenger’s role in the interim, like the Alistair Overeem/Antonio Silva winner, first. A Velasquez win would make Cormier look at a move to light heavyweight (so he’s said thus far), which would be an interesting bonus prize from the championship changing hands.
All in all, there is a lot on the line and a lot to be decided in the main event which is precisely why I can’t wait for Saturday night to get here already.
Heavyweights stay standing more than any other weight class, and that will play to the strength of the champion. Dos Santos was already the best striker in the heavyweight division before he put on a striking clinic against Frank Mir, and he carries sound technique, high accuracy, dominant pace and brutal knockout power all in the same two hands.
Gone are the days of the lumbering, super-sized heavyweights. Dos Santos and Velasquez are leaner, meaner and pair power with speed. Dos Santos is slightly younger, but both men are in the peak age range for UFC fighters. Each will stand orthodox, with a 77-inch reach. Dos Santos stands a little taller, perhaps diminishing any hope of a miracle high kick from Velasquez.These familiar opponents have been on tears in the UFC, rarely going to a decision and averaging only five to six minutes per fight. Hoping that their past injuries are behind them, they have each enjoyed a seven-month layoff since their wins on the all-heavyweight main card at UFC 146. The tale of the tape does not reveal many advantages, but it does tell the story of two guys fully capable of smashing their opponents.
A couple things are worth noting here. Both fighters have excelled across offensive metrics, so both are excellent strikers. More specifically, dos Santos’ training as a boxer is evident with his sharp jab and dominant pace of action. He has nine knockdowns in nine fights; his accuracy is way above the heavyweight average; and he throws nearly two and half times as many strikes as opponents while in a standing position. However, his tendency to box in lieu of slugging it out also leads to his slightly lower share of power strikes. Interestingly, while his accuracy significantly exceeds that of his opponents, his opponents have been roughly average with their own accuracy, meaning dos Santos’ defense is just average for his division.
Velasquez is no slouch, either. He, too, has outpaced his foes in standup striking and has done so with superior accuracy that is also — but to a lesser degree — above the heavyweight average. Plus, he throws a greater share of power strikes than the champion. His clinch striking accuracy — dirty boxing to some extent — is quite good and much better than dos Santos, though Velasquez’s defense there lags. Most significantly, the challenger’s overall striking defense is actually superior to the champion’s, as seen by the low accuracy of Velasquez’s opponents compared to those of dos Santos. This could be a byproduct of Velasquez’s wrestling ability, as adversaries may have been more conservative in exchanges while worrying about his takedowns.
The bottom line: despite Velasquez’s solid performance to date, dos Santos has the edge here in striking. However, both of these heavyweights wield knockout power, so as long as this fight is standing, do not blink. Whoever can land a big strike first could end this main event early. The numbers favor dos Santos, and their last fight ended quickly after he landed an overhand right. That being said, we have yet to see how Velasquez’s mobility on a healthy knee will help his defense in avoiding the threat of the champion’s striking.
Velasquez has shown an aggressive wrestling attack, averaging 2.7 takedown attempts per round. He also lands those takedowns with high success, about two-thirds of the time, which is well above the UFC heavyweight average. Velasquez has wisely utilized the clinch position for most of his takedowns, even incorporating slams on occasion – an impressive feat in the weight class of giants. While dos Santos has a similarly high success rate, he averages very few attempts and clearly prefers to keep things standing.Once on the ground, Velasquez has been quite active with ground-and-pound. Rarely attempting submissions, he actively passes guard and often ends up in side control or even full mount, where he rains leathery bombs by the hundreds. Though his focus is on striking volume — and not submissions — has led to frequent opponent escapes and standups, there is no question he has been absolutely dominant on the ground.
In stark contrast, dos Santos has barely attempted any ground game at all — a rarity for a Brazilian fighter. Still, the findings here are less demonstrable, as opponents have not gotten the better of him, either. Dos Santos has shown a similarly stout takedown defense, and on the two occasions where he ended up on his back, he was able to get back to his feet quickly without absorbing a single strike. His Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt from Team Nogueira is still waiting for a legitimate debut in the Octagon, and Velasquez’s tendency to close the distance may provide the best chance yet. The real unknown here is whether dos Santos can be effective fighting off his back and actually lock a submission on a seasoned wrestler. Generally speaking, submissions in the heavyweight division are rare, but Velasquez’s submission defense is untested in MMA competition. He has only faced one guillotine choke attempt, while dos Santos has not faced any submission attempts at all. It may be a longshot, but it adds an unknown element to this rematch should the fight go to the ground.
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