Having lost the first fight by knockout, Cain Velasquez reclaimed the Heavyweight championship from his opponent, Junior dos Santos, in a five-round domination one year ago. Both heavyweights will look to have their hand raised as the champion and winner of the string of epic battles they have delivered to date.
Seeing that the first fight ended with dos Santos rocking Velasquez in little more than one minute to win the title, and the second fight was vastly different with Velasquez pummeling dos Santos in his own game and utilizing takedowns, too, this fight could not be more of a toss up to call. Will it look anything remotely close to either of their first and second encounters or will we be surprised again with something we totally did not expect?
We will find out in just a few hours on pay-per-view (PPV).
As both men finished off a week of mixed martial arts (MMA) media appearances and successfully made weight yesterday (see staredown pic here), it's time for their "Final Fighting Words," before the time for talking is done and the fists start to fly.
Joe Rogan caught up with both the champion and the challenger moments after they hit the scale and stared at each other one last time. UFC's lively broadcaster asked the challenger and former champion, dos Santos, about tonight's showdown.
On his thoughts about tomorrow night:
"It's going to be great for the fans. I'm here to give you guys one more knockout."
Rogan then caught up with the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA)-trained standout and asked him what he thought about his opponent and his chances in the main event.
On what he thinks of dos Santos and how this fight will go down:
"He's a tough dude. In this fight, I expect it to be tougher than the second one -- that's what I trained for, that's what I'm ready for. I'm ready for a tougher fight -- five-round fight -- I'm ready for whatever."
Fox Sports 1 Interviews
The FOX Sports 1 panel, which included Karyn Bryant alongside UFC stars Chael Sonnen and Kenny Florian, asked the champion a few questions that concluded his media obligations before stepping inside the Octagon tonight with the Brazilian powerhouse.
On his mental preparations and what he does differently to prepare for the same opponent he has already fought twice:
"Mentally, whatever's at stake -- the belt. Being champion and staying champion, that's ultimately what we're working toward. As far as the gameplan and what we are going to do out there; we have to be in his face, we can't let him settle, keep that pressure on him the whole time and just mix it up really well. I think that's the key to always beating him."
On if dos Santos' fist bothered him in the staredown, and if anything was said between the two:
"Nothing was said, but on our side, if he shows that to us, we're doing it right back to him. We're going to show him he's in a dogfight and that it's not going to be easy. He's not even going to get the mental edge before the fight."
On what the feeling is going into the third fight, besides redemption from the first:
"I have that same hunger going in. Keeping the belt ... sitting here in this position is what I want to do. So, going in with that same hunger to train everyday to beat him."
Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com and FOX Sports caught up with the challenger, who is focused and ready to win back the Heavyweight championship for the second time.
On if he likes being on enemy territory, based on the reaction the fans gave Velasquez at the weigh-ins:
"I don't care too much. I think they are rooting for their guy and I know I have a lot of people rooting for me too, so it's okay."
On how he is feeling mentally heading into this fight, despite the issues that lingered outside of the cage in his second fight:
"I feel great. I think it's a great moment for me and him. We have to see who's number one, and I'm here to prove I am this guy."
On whether or not he will try and punish Velasquez, who had some choice words for him based on their second fight:
"I don't like to hurt people. I like to put people to sleep."
MMAmania.com will prove LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 166 event, starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1-televised under card bouts at 8 p.m. ET and then main card PPV action, which is slated to begin at 10 p.m. ET.