You read their articles, you watch and listen to their interviews, but often the personal opinions of the mixed martial arts (MMA) media get brushed over.
These media members have inside knowledge of the sport and a unique perspective of the fighters they have the privilege of interacting with. Before you place that bet in Vegas or with your friends, be sure to check out what those most educated about the sport have to say about the upcoming event.
Mike Bohn (MMA Mania): The outcome of this fight is going to be determined not just by Cain Velasquez's ability to take Junior dos Santos to the ground, but keep him there. For Velasquez to do that to a fighter who has spent a total of 13 seconds on his back in nine UFC fights for up to a potential 25 minutes seems like an insurmountable task. That said, the top game of the former champion is among the best in the heavyweight division and if anyone can dominate dos Santos on the ground, it's Velasquez. This fight isn't going to be as quick as the first, it will be much more competitive and I actually think dos Santos is going to face some adversity in this fight but will ultimately connect with a big shot and retain his belt once again. Junior dos Santos via TKO - R3
Dave Doyle (MMAFighting/SI.com): Sometimes in MMA, we have a habit of overanalyzing things just to make ourselves sound smarter than we really are. But sometimes the simple analysis is the most accurate. That's the case with Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez. Can Junior keep it standing, and can Cain take Junior down and keep him there? Strip everything else aside and that's really all that matters. Dos Santos is by no means a lock, but when push comes to shove, I just can't see him losing. Dos Santos via TKO.
Damon Martin (MMA Weekly): I truly believe neither fighter was 100% in the last fight, but that said I think the superior heavyweight still won. Junior Dos Santos has shown no cracks in his game to this point, and I don't think this is the fight where it will happen either although Cain Velasquez is a formidable opponent. I think Cain needs to get this fight to the ground to win, but Dos Santos' takedown defense is so good and his ability to bounce back is even better. I think this fight makes it until the 2nd round maybe the 3rd this time because Junior will be a little more cautious until he finds his range and then I think he once again knocks out Cain Velasquez.
Chuck Mindenhall (ESPN): Here's the thing: In a dictation of wills, it's hard to go against Junior dos Santos. He has been completely invulnerable to wrestlers, punchers and strong fancy hybrids. For Velasquez to get this fight into his realm he will have to take dos Santos down. That's been next to impossible for all of Cigano's opponents thus far, and I think it'll be the same on Saturday night. Dos Santos' takedown defense is superb, and if he keeps the fight standing he works Velasquez all the live-long day. It might last a little longer than the first time, but the result will be the same. Dos Santos via TKO in the second round.
Guilherme Cruz (Tatame): Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez were both injured on the first fight. A knee injury would be terrible for the Brazilian on his takedown defenses, but Velasquez's hurt knee would be equally bad for his takedown attempts. Assuming that both are 100% for this rematch, I see Junior winning via knockout in the second round. Cain is the worst match-up for Junior in the UFC right now due to his wrestling abilities and knockout power, but Junior's boxing is going be too much for him - again.
Mike Straka (FightNow! TV): I think JDS will take this fight by TKO. Although we really have never seen his ground game, I think it will be very difficult for Cain to get close enough to take Junior down without eating some very hard strikes. Junior has too much power in his hands for most of the heavyweights with a wrestling base. As long as JDS is healthy I don't see him losing his belt until a HW with superior boxing skills comes to town, or maybe a black Fedor (could there be such a fighter)?
Jason Nawara (Middle Easy): This fight gives me strange feelings. Is the UFC heavyweight division so shallow that a win (albeit an impressive win) over Bigfoot Silva props Cain right back into a title shot? I blame Overeem. If Alistair Overeem didn't fail his drug test we would probably be seeing JDS/Overeem II or something way different than this to close out 2012... But this is a prediction for the UFC 155 main event, try as I might, I can't get away from that. Apparently, Cain fought JDS the first time with a torn up knee, which definitely hindered him in the Octagon. Granted, that torn up knee can't entirely be to blame considering JDS' formidable fist knocking out Cain in sixty-four seconds, but it did a little. Now, (hopefully) both fighters are as close to 100% a pro martial artist can be going into fight day, and I feel like the MMA world wants me to believe the fight is going to turn out different. I don't think so. JDS is a hell of a champion, so I expect him to beat up Cain once again, it will just be a little harder this time. My prediction? JDS via TKO in the 2nd round. But Overeem wins the fight between either of these guys when it happens. I know I shouldn't throw that in there but I'm going to. Happy New Year.
Adam Martin (Sportsnet): This rematch between Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez isn't going to differ much from their first bout. 13 months ago, dos Santos hit Velasquez very hard in the side of the head, and won the heavyweight title just 64 seconds into a scheduled 25-minute bout. This rematch will go a little longer, but the outcome will be the same: Velasquez won't be able to take dos Santos down and if dos Santos has 25 minutes to land that shot, he will. I see dos Santos winning this bout via second-round TKO.
Jeremy Brand (MMA Sucka): Junior dos Santos made quick work of Cain Velasquez in their first meeting at UFC on FOX 1. Albeit, Velasquez had knee problems. This fight his game plan should be a tad different and we may see dos Santos work from his back. If his takedown defense is as good as we all think it is, this fight could end up being just as quick as the first. My pick, Junior dos Santos by 2nd round TKO
Media picking Junior dos Santos: Nine
Media picking Cain Velasquez: Zero