It was November 12, 2011 when an impactful shot was heard around the world. The stage, the debut of UFC on Fox. It came in the form of a right hook from then challenger Junior Dos Santos that saw the abrupt end to then champion Cain Velasquez’s one year reign in heavyweight supremacy. Velasquez went 0-1 in title defenses. In the post fight interview, Velasquez was both contrite and determined when he apologized to the fans for a disappointing performance. He also vowed to reclaim what was rightfully his. Although it was later revealed that Velasquez fought while injured, he didn’t use that as an excuse. He accepted his loss and knew what had to be done. The shot heard around the world started as Velasquez’s demise, but ultimately, it became his ignition.
Fast forward to UFC 146, night of the heavyweights. Both Junior Dos Santos and Velasquez were once again featured on the same card, but this time around, they faced different foes. In the co-main event, Velasquez faced Antonio “Big Foot” Silva to decide the next number one contender while Dos Santos defended the title against the division’s submission expert, Frank Mir. Dos Santos was able to finish Mir 3:04 into the second round by way of knockout, but it was not his performance that resonated with fight enthusiasts. It was Velasquez’s early decimation of Silva (3:36 into round one) that spoke to the masses. From the time he walked into the octagon, you could see a conviction in his eyes like never before. His performance fell in alignment with that look of intensity, as he ran roughshod on Silva. The statement Velasquez made was nothing short of resounding, as he convincingly made it clear he was out to regain his title. After both fighters succeeded in fulfilling their tasks, they knew their date with destiny would come once again. This time around, this past weekend’s UFC 155 card, which emanated from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
And this time around, it was a different fight from the one that came to an abrupt end 13 months ago.
The NBA has a CP in Chris Paul, who is affectionately known as “CP3”. The night of December 29th saw the return of the real Cain Velasquez, who I will now refer to as “CP4”, courtesy of UFC analyst Joe Rogan. For five rounds, Velasquez applied CONSTANT POSITIONING, CONSTANT PRESSURE, CONSTANCE PACE AND CONSTANT PUNCHING. It was fitting for heavyweight boxing great “Iron” Mike Tyson to be in attendance because Velasquez’s performance was reminiscent of his. Velasquez applied the kind of pressure that didn’t allow any room for Dos Santos to execute the striking attack that many are accustomed to. Even when the former champion landed his best shots, Velasquez’s CPs were too overwhelming for Dos Santos to land them with the impact they usually pack. Here are other ways in which the CPs benefited Velasquez, by the numbers:
33: The number of Velasquez’s takedown attempts; talk about determination.
11: The number of takedowns executed, seven of which happened in the first two rounds alone.
111: Number of significant strikes landed by Velasquez. Dos Santos’ prior nine opponents combined for 124. That’s only 13.7 per opponent.
2,128: The number of days since a UFC heavyweight title fight went the distance. Typically any fight in this division runs no longer than two rounds considering the frequency of knockouts involved.
6.21: The number of strikes that Velasquez landed per 60 seconds…a strike every 10 seconds. Unreal!
1: As in the only fighter to land triple-digit strikes and double-digit takedowns in one fight.
While many are clamoring for a third installment of this rivalry, Velasquez’s dominance only assures me that it’ll be more of the same. If the UFC wants another trilogy to etch into its history books, I’m not against it, but it should not come before the match that’ll draw even more interest, Velasquez vs. Alistar Overeem. Yes, Overeem faces Antonio “Big Foot” Silva to determine the next number one contender, and no Silva should not be overlooked. However, with the decapitation of Brock Lesnar at UFC 141, coupled with the embarrassment Overeem suffered at the hands of his performance enhancement downfall, Silva will be blessed if he makes it to see the second round. As imposing of a figure as Overeem is, I can’t help but wonder if he has the cardiovascular endurance needed to compete with the motor of “Brown Pride”, or CP4. On the flipside, how will Velasquez respond to a counter strike from Overeem when he attempts a takedown. Overeem’s kicboxing is uncanny.
For now, Velasquez is basking in a promise fulfilled as a two-time UFC World Heavyweight Champion. All answers, or at least speculation, will come once this eventual matchup comes to fruition.
Fight fans, we here at TNP Sports appreciate your commitment to us as we give you sports as we interpret it. We ask that you all please come into the new year safely, so we can aim to give you a better 2013 in sports coverage. Please be safe, be blessed and be easy.