Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE
With one of the most significant rematches in the history of the UFC heavyweight division on the horizon, No. 1 contender Cain Velasquez has the utmost confidence heading into his UFC 155 title fight against Junior dos Santos. Velasquez claims there is no fighter better than him in the heavyweight division and if there is, it certainly isn't dos Santos.
Luckily for the 30-year-old, his opportunity isn't far off as in the main event of UFC 155 on New Year's weekend (Dec. 29, 2012), he is scheduled to challenge dos Santos for the division strap.
The heavyweight championship bout will be a rematch from UFC on FOX 1 in November 2011. The first fight saw then-champion Velasquez get knocked out by "Cigano" just 64-seconds into the opening round.
Dos Santos landed a perfectly-placed overhand right behind the ear of Velasquez that not only knocked him out, but caused him to lose the title he took from Brock Lesnar just one fight prior.
With a little over a year since the first fight, Velasquez has had a lot of time to fix any holes in his game as well as right any wrongs he made in their initial bout. The No. 1 contender in the heavyweight division has rebuilt his confidence and is eager to show he is superior to dos Santos at UFC 155.
"I'm going to win this fight because I feel like I'm the better guy," Velasquez said in to a pre-fight interview with UFC.com. "I'm hungry and I want that belt back."
The fight with dos Santos is the only time in Velasquez's 11-fight career where he has failed to have his hand raised. Even though Velasquez has only fought once since his last meeting with the champion, the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) product proved in that one fight --a first-round shellacking of Antonio Silva at UFC 146 -- that he is still one of the top dogs in the division.
Unfortunately for all the heavyweights in the UFC, being one of the top dogs isn't good enough for Velasquez -- he wants to be the very best.
"I got myself into this sport to be the best," Velasquez said. "I'm not there right now. There's one guy I have to go through to be that."
Velasquez was on the receiving end of a lot of criticism after his first match up with dos Santos. Even though the fight only last a little more than one minute, many spectators believed Velasquez should have put more effort into taking the fight to the ground where, on paper at least, he has an advantage.
There's a good chance Velasquez will implement a grappling-heavy strategy at UFC 155, however, if he can't keep the fight on the ground, the Californian will be prepared to fight in any position.
"His takedown defense is really good, as soon as he goes down he pops back up or he doesn't even let you go to the ground," Velasquez said of dos Santos. "If he does get up then hey, we're going to fight on our feet. He really doesn't have any weakness out there. There's something about ending the fight with punches, I mean for me it's the best feeling in the world. "
While Velasquez would certainly like to prove he can strike with dos Santos after the result of the first meeting, the goal is to win the belt, and he's not going to try and make a point by standing in front of his heavy-handed foe.
The ideal result for the challenger would be to take dos Santos to the ground and stop the fight with ground-and-pound.
"Going out there, taking him down and finishing him on top would be the ultimate thing for me." Velasquez said.
When Velasquez first won the heavyweight title back in October 2010, many believed he was destined to rule the division with an iron fist for a long time. Those talks were brought to an abrupt halt with just one punch.
Not many fighters are granted an opportunity to fight for a UFC title in their career, and in Velasquez's case he has the chance to become just the third two-time champion in the history of the UFC heavyweight division.
With so much on the line, Velasquez is supremely focused and at UFC 155 wants to prove he is not only superior to dos Santos, but he is capable of being the dominant champion people pegged him as not long ago.
"The whole reason I'm here to fight now is to be the best, to be the champ," Velasquez said. "That's the only thing that I want is the belt, and to keep it, keep defending it. I'm going to go in there and just take what's mine."
"I'm going to prove I'm the best when I take my belt back. There's nobody better than me, especially Junior dos Santos."