Biggest fight of the year? The decade? Ever?
Anyway you slice it, UFC on FOX is kind of a big deal. How big? Big enough to run with just one fight, a heavyweight battle featuring reigning champion Cain Velasquez against division number one contender Junior dos Santos.
And it all goes down tomorrow night (Nov. 12, 2011) live from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Remember: MMAmania.com will provide LIVE updates with blow-by-blow, round-by-round commentary of all the action on fight night, which is slated to air at 9 p.m. ET on FOX (with Facebook "Prelim" fights beginning at 5:00 p.m. ET).
One big fight means one big prediction. But don't worry, I'll be throwing in my two cents on all the Facebook preliminary bouts as well.
Nostradumbass predicts: I don't think it's a stretch to call Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos the two best heavyweights in the UFC. How do they match up? Pretty damn close, actually.
In seven fights under the Zuffa umbrella, Velasquez has competed against opposition with a combined record of 110-31 and an average winning percentage of 76-percent.
Dos Santos, also stepping into the Octagon for seven fights, has competed against opposition with a combined record of 133-41 and an average winning percentage of 74-percent.
Velasquez has stopped six of his seven victims in the UFC and eight of nine overall. Dos Santos has finished five of seven and 11 of 13 overall.
As far as their accomplishments, it's pretty much neck-and-neck. But on Saturday night in Anaheim, it won't be.
Cain has been out of action for over a year. Can he come back with enough cardio to last five rounds? Probably. But there's one area where you can't pick up where you left off and that's timing.
When you face a guy with the hands of Dos Santos, you really don't have a round or two to be working out the kinks. It's life or death from the word go. And timing isn't limited to just his hands either, as setting up the shoot, which he may or may not need to establish with strikes, requires its own degree of coordination.
Let's also not overlook that his self-imposed layoff wasn't for a cruise to Honolulu or to feed the starving pygmies, it was for major shoulder surgery. How will that affect his power? His ability to maintain a dominant position? The clinch?
We just don't know -- but I'm willing to overlook it.
However, there is one fatal flaw in the history of Cain's otherwise stellar run that I can't overlook, and it came at UFC 99 just over two years ago.
His name is Cheick Kongo. Our own Andrew Mendez with the play-by-play:
...Kongo lands a quick right and then another big right and Cain's knees buckle and he falls.
...Cain rushes in and Kongo lands another HUGE right and Cain is rocked again and falls. WOW.
...Kongo to his feet and is now landing some knees to the stomach and Cain looks winded. Kongo now lands a punch and Cain looks rocked AGAIN...
It cannot be overstated how impressive Velasquez was in that fight, because he had the heart, will and determination to come back and defeat the Parisian. I'll give credit where credit is due.
But he was in deep, deep trouble.
The reason it's such a red flag is because I have yet to see Dos Santos get hurt by his opponent. Is he easy to hit? Yes, as "Cro Cop," Nelson and Carwin all landed clean.
Junior didn't budge.
My concern for the Brazilian is his conditioning. It's not unlike him to fade away after two rounds of "Hulk smash." If Cain can stay in his face and force him to defend, the champ could ride him out and start to mix his lethal combination of takedowns and ground-and-pound.
Velasquez's biggest asset is his wrestling. But we don't yet know how Dos Santos will respond to the takedown. The good news for "Cigano" fans is that every fight starts on the feet.
And what's a wrestler's biggest fear? The uppercut. Who throws the uppercut better than any heavyweight in the UFC? Junior dos Santos.
Just ask "Vai Cavalo."
I believe Velasquez will be able to take Junior down, just as I believe Dos Santos can land cleanly on Cain. I also believe that only one of those two scenarios is a fight-ender.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new champion.
Prediction: Junior dos Santos def. Cain Velasquez via technical knockout
155 lbs.: Clay Guida vs. Ben Henderson -- Holy bad hair day. Clay Guida is a good wrestler and an even better belcher. But he's not well-rounded enough to defeat Henderson, who can also wrestle and will hurt "The Carpenter" on the feet before choking him out with a guillotine.
135 lbs.: Norifumi Yamamoto vs. Darren Uyenoyama -- I "kid" you not, Yamamoto, who technically is the superior fighter, will continue to struggle in the UFC, allowing Uyenoyama to make this a much closer fight than it needs to be. Norifumi by split decision.
145 lbs.: Dustin Poirier vs. Pablo Garza -- I like Garza's ground game and he's dangerous off his back, but Piorier is not gonna have any part of that and will use his superior striking to keep it upright (see Grispi, Josh) and batter his way to a unanimous decision win.
145 lbs.: Cub Swanson vs. Ricardo Lamas -- Swanson is maddeningly inconsistent and I think Lamas is going to use his wrestling to keep this thing grounded. He won't get the finish, but he'll do enough to grind out the unanimous decision win.
145 lbs.: Robert Peralta vs. Mackens Semerzier -- Mack has been a "menace" to no one but himself and Bruce Leroy. Three straight losses to leave the WEC? Peralta is a serious up-and-comer and will give his opponent too many "problems" en route to a technical knockout stoppage.
185 lbs.: Paul Bradley vs. Mike Pierce -- Bradley already lost to Pierce at "Brotherly Love Brawl" back in 2009 and hasn't beaten enough quality opponents to prove the second go-round will be any different. Pierce on the other hand, in losing efforts, has shown he can hang against guys like Jon Fitch and Johny Hendricks. Pierce by UD.
205 lbs.: Matt Lucas vs. Aaron Rosa -- I like that Rosa is competing at his natural weight class (finally), but there is no way in hell I can pick against a fighter who goes by the nickname "Luke Duke." Ain't happening. This good ol' boy wins by TKO.
135 lbs.: Alex Caceres vs. Cole Escovedo -- Both fighters are desperate for a win, but Escovedo has fought much harder competition and has 10 years in the fight game. Bruce Leroy, with all four losses coming by way of submission, is getting choked out in the first round.
170 lbs.: DaMarques Johnson vs. Clay Harvison -- Johnson has looked flat and uninspired in recent fights, but if he's got his head on straight, he wins this fight against Harvison. He's simply the more talented fighter and I'm taking him by unanimous decision.
That's a wrap, folks.
Remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of UFC on FOX: "Velasquez vs. Dos Santos"
What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for tomorrow night's event.