Remember when everyone thought Cain Velasquez was an underdog who didn’t really stand a chance against Junior dos Santos? Ok, immediately forget that thought now. At UFC 155, Velasquez reminded us all why Dana White always used to call him the terminator, as he dominated former UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos for five rounds en route to taking the title back. From the opening of the fight, Cain fought like a man possessed by having to watch a never ending loop of his being knocked out by JDS in front of millions in under a minute. He used his striking to set up repeated clinches and take-downs in the grapple-heavy attack that everyone chided him for not using in the first bout.
The fight was reminiscent of the way Velasquez used a pressure-based attack to overwhelm Cheick Kongo and Ben Rothwell. Every time dos Santos tried to catch his breath, Velasquez would go back to smothering him or working for a take-down. Cain was even able to eat blows from JDS on the way to some of his take-downs, which I would have considered a recipe for disaster going into the fight. However, the fact that JDS was so worn out from the relentless Velasquez pressure likely contributed to such blows having much less effect than the kill shot a fresh JDS put Cain out with in their first fight.
I thought it was interesting how flat footed JDS seemed during the fight, as the UFC has done a great job of hyping him as one of the best and quickest boxers in heavyweight division history. However, between the fact that he was noticeably fatigued early and that his footwork has never necessarily been as quick as his hands (or even close), the boxing was mostly neutralized by Cain’s pressure. Looking back now, I’m not sure why JDS’s slower struggles against Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin did not do a better job of tipping this off (though I definitely called Cain at +170).
All in all, Velasquez couldn’t have executed his game plan any more perfectly. The only way things could have possibly gone any better for him last night would have involved him getting the finish he was close to in the first round, or perhaps being notified after the fight that he had won the Powerball. At the same time, Cain probably doesn’t have to change too much in a potential fight with Reem, as he is likely to try to employ an almost identical approach. So that should make his training camp a little easier. Then again, it’s Cain Velasquez we are talking about here, so I doubt he takes the easy way with anything related to his training.
In sum, it was a great win for Cain, who did more than erase the image of him flailing around on Fox after being struck in the ear. I am sure we will complete the trilogy between these two at some point but, after that domination, I hope the UFC holds off for the near future. If JDS isn’t given some time to sure up his grappling, the trilogy may be remembered more for a GSP-Hughes trajectory than anything else.
P.S. Why boo JDS after the fight? Come on people. Awful crowd work there. Even Montreal is willing to cheer anti-GSP people after fights.
P.P.S. Speaking of why JDS, why threaten to take a point away in the fifth round for grabbing the fence, Herb Dean? I know it’s your job, but do you really think the threat is going to make a difference in the fifth round when he’s already down by 6 points? I say next time warn as it’s happening and then deduct the point when it still matters.
P.P.P.S. How quick do you think Daniel Cormier started eating a salad last night? I envision him sadly throwing out a plate of wings and grabbing a salad as Cain dominated into the later rounds.