With one of the most anticipated heavyweight championship fights in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) history a little over one week away, the UFC hype machine is in full effect for UFC 155: "Dos Santos vs. Velasquez II," set to take place next Saturday night (Dec. 29, 2012) from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The main event of the evening from "Sin City" will see ex-titleholder Cain Velasquez (10-1) attempt to retake the strap from the man who dethroned him a little over one-year ago, current champion Junior dos Santos (15-1).
The night was Nov. 12, 2011, at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. It took dos Santos just 64 seconds and one perfectly placed punch to the head of Velasquez to become the new UFC heavyweight champion of the world.
With the rematch that will determine the world's top heavyweight just around the corner, UFC color-commentators Joe Rogan and Kenny Florian gave their take on dos Santos vs. Velasquez II.
"The rematch between Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez is very intriguing for a number of reasons," Rogan said in a pre-fight interview with UFC.com. "First of all, the future of the heavyweight division was rewritten by one punch from Junior dos Santos. Cain Velasquez for the past few years has been thought by almost everyone to be the premier heavyweight on the planet after his dominant victory over Brock Lesnar to win the UFC heavyweight title, most people thought he was going to be king and stay king for a long time."
Unfortunately for Velasquez, his title reign was short-lived as he was never able to successfully defend the gold. His era on the top of the division lasted just over one-minute of cage time, something that undoubtedly digs away at the 30-year-old.
Going into the first fight, tt was common opinion that if Velasquez could take "Cigano" to the ground, he would have a significant advantage due to his decorated amateur wrestling background. It is all but guaranteed Velasquez will put more effort into taking the rematch to the ground, and if he is able to, Florian believes it will be very difficult for dos Santos to get up.
"In that first fight against dos Santos, [Velasquez] got hit behind the ear, which really effects your equilibrium and from there, it's very difficult for a fighter to recover," Florian said in a pre-fight interview with UFC.com. "So we never had a chance to truly see Cain Velasquez at his best in that fight against dos Santos. Cain Velasquez never had the opportunity to even really utilize his game plan, which was to get in on the leg of dos Santos and put him on his back and utilize that big time ground-and-pound game that he has. When Cain Velasquez gets on top of you, not many people will get up."
As far as how the main event of UFC 155 will play out, ultimately it will come down to which man can better execute their game plan and strategies.
"Every fights starts out on the feet and Junior dos Santos aims to keep his fights on the feet," Rogan said. "His incredible takedown defense and his superior boxing and power in his hands make him one of the most dangerous guys in any weight class in the UFC ... Where Junior has the advantage is the one-punch concussive knockout blows that he's been able to land over and over and over again."
"Cain Velasquez is the type of guy who goes back to the drawing board and learns from his mistakes. He came back after his loss to Junior dos Santos and absolutely wrecked ‘Bigfoot' Silva. We saw a motivated, hungry Cain Velasquez who is absolutely, 100 percent on regaining his top spot as the heavyweight champion of the UFC. There's very few human beings who walk around at 240-pounds who can keep up with the pace that Cain Velasquez can put on in an MMA fight. Cain has excellent strikes, he's very technical. His boxing, kickboxing, his knees, his elbows, his punches - everything is excellent."
While Rogan and Florian have a similar take on the strengths and weaknesses of both the champion and the challenger, one thing they overwhelmingly agree on is dos Santos' striking is on another level, as proven by his ability to score knockout victories 11 out of 15 times his hand's been raised.
"What makes Junior dos Santos so deadly, really, is his athleticism," explained Florian. "At the heavyweight division, you do not see guys move like Junior dos Santos. His footwork, his speed, he's always in the perfect position to knock you out."
"You're seeing in a guy like Junior dos Santos who has got the footwork and sprawl and the takedown defense of a welterweight," Rogan said of the Brazilian champion. "The way he moves, the way he fires off combinations, he does it like a middleweight or a light heavyweight. The power, though, is heavyweight power."
Whether the rematch is a carbon-copy of the first bout and ends via knockout in the first minute, or goes all five-rounds and is the ‘Fight of the Year,' there is a level of unpredictability surrounding a heavyweight championship bout that keeps fans on edge.
On Dec. 29, we'll find out who is the true No. 1 heavyweight in the world.