Cain Velasquez became the Heavyweight with the most (technical) knockouts in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) history last night (Sat., Oct. 19, 2013) at UFC 166, winning the rubber match against Junior dos Santos in devastating fashion.
So, where does Velasquez go from here? This one is a no-brainer.
Fabricio Werdum was all but guaranteed the next shot at the champion and Dana White reiterated that point with Joe Rogan at the end of the pay-per-view (PPV) broadcast. Although when that fight will happen is obviously uncertain right now, it will be intriguing for a number of reasons.
Velasquez without a doubt will have the striking advantage, possessing speed and power, and generally is known for his standup abilities more so than his opponent. Even though Werdum's striking has improved immensely over the past few years, he simply does not have the advantages Velasquez has with his fists.
The favorable cardio also leans toward the current champion, as he looks as fresh as someone like Frankie Edgar in the championship rounds. Werdum tires but no more than the average heavyweight who needs to hang in there for five rounds.
The real question will be who has the edge in the grappling exchanges, and even on the mat.
Yes, Werdum has the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills on the planet in his weight class, and he showed the world that by submitting the legendary Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC on Fuel TV 10 earlier this summer. Velasquez has the best wrestling in the division alongside his training partner, Daniel Cormier, who will be dropping down to light heavyweight for his next fight -- which now declares Velasquez as the best wrestler in the division. A grappling exchange between the two would be curious to see, as it would be a stylistic clash between a wrestler with brute force and a submission expert who moves too slyly for his size.
If Werdum was smart, he would take down Velasquez immediately and start working from there, making the champion uncomfortable.
It would not be too smart for Velasquez to take down Werdum without battering him up first. And the champion knows that. He has a distinct advantage in the striking, so why not play that game and force his opponent to engage with him? It does not mean Werdum cannot find any bright moments in the striking -- he for sure can, but it will be tough. He will need to be more versatile than dos Santos was, without having equally the same amount of power the challenger had -- and Werdum knows about dos Santos' power -- he was knocked out by the fellow Brazilian at UFC 90, which robbed him of a potential title fight.
Apart from Werdum, there is a few heavyweights who could enter the title picture, with the winner of Josh Barnett and Travis Browne making a case for a shot, alongside guys like Gabriel Gonzaga, Frank Mir and Alistair Overeem not exactly deserving of a title shot, this fight with Werdum is more or less made ... it is just missing a date.
What is also next for Velasquez is for us to see how truly good he can be, and how he could improve, if that even is a possibility. Every observer in the sport will keep a close eye on the champion, and see if he could become the greatest Heavyweight in the sport's history.