Mixed martial arts (MMA) rematches are a fascinating prospect, especially with the quick turnaround timeframe of the Heavyweight showdown between Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva, which will headline UFC 160 later this evening (Sat., May 25, 2013) at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
"Brown Pride" and "Bigfoot" first met little less than one year ago at UFC 146, with Velasquez scoring a brutal first round technical knockout over Silva. Both men have since registered career-boosting Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) wins, with Velasquez avenging his knockout loss to Junior dos Santos with a five-round clinic to regain his belt and Silva putting the brakes on Alistair Overeem’s courtesy of a savage third round finish.
One thing that’s nice about Velasquez is he never suffers from the wrong level of confidence. The guy would show up in shape and with a gameplan to fight anyone, including your grandmother.
Silva’s mental toughness, meanwhile, is considerable when you look at how he took apart Fedor Emelianenko and Overeem, where in both cases he was cast as a sacrificial lamb. With his size and imposing frame, he doesn’t need to look pretty. He just needs to be around long enough to connect, or get on top of his opponent and not get off.
That’s Velasquez’ assignment, and it figures to go longer than their first affair, which lasted little more than 3.5 minutes before the bloodied Silva was rescued from further abuse.
Silva will not be kicking much, at least not early, because that’s what killed him in their first bout. Velasquez caught one, took him down, and proceeded to unleash a ground beating that was of the most memorable in recent MMA history. "Bigfoot" has a decent jab and basic punches, but he often lingers in letting his hands go. Fear of making a mistake is something he’ll have to overcome and wipe the last bout from his mind.
For Velasquez, he’s got to be wary of heavy energy-sapping exchanges with Silva, even though his conditioning is widely regarded as the best of any big man in the sport. It’s because Silva, especially in clinches and in top position on the ground, weighs a freaking ton and like any good grappler, knows how to exert tremendous top pressure on his opponent.
Velasquez’s stand up is high-volume and ever-aggressive, and the balls he showed in attacking dos Santos immediately in the rematch mean that he’ll have little fear of doing the same against the much-slower Silva. This isn’t a fight where Silva will have many openings, especially as Velasquez is better on the feet and in the wrestling. But, as he did against Emelianenko and Overeem, making it ugly, grinding and a size game will be to his advantages.
By forcing tie-ups, battling for under hooks in close, using foot stomps, punching the back of the head, and general misanthropy from any position, Silva can take Velasquez out of his game through the sheer size of his bulk and weight.
He’s done it before, and god help you if he gets on top.
Velasquez was never better than in the dos Santos rematch, where he basically went all-in in the opening round and risked everything in the belief that a breakneck pace would wear down "Cigano." He has more options here, and can flit around and take his time, as the plodding Silva can’t cut the ring off standing and doesn’t figure to want a lengthy kickboxing match.
Look for Velasquez to assert his better stand up early, wary of getting caught with a sucker punch and at some point in the first, he’ll hit a slick transition into a tie-up and takedown attempt. Silva figures to fight the first few off, but the problem is, with Velasquez, he seems to have a permanent supply.
Dude just keeps coming.
Eventually, Silva will be taken down, and Velasquez will mix in punches and positional improvements, winning the round. In the second, he’ll repeat the trick, and Silva will be unable to get back to his feet as Velasquez keeps battering him, and stuffing attempts to sweep, transition or set up submissions. Velasquez will turn up the heat and land big shots, scoring an impressive second-round knockout to retain his title.
Velasquez via knockout
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 160 fight card on fight night (May 25, 2013), starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 6:35 p.m. ET, right on through the FX-televised under card bouts at 8 p.m. ET and then main card pay-per-view (PPV) action, which is slated to begin at 10 p.m. ET.
Jason Probst can be reached at twitter.com/jasonprobst