On Oct. 19, 2013, the Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos trilogy fight will take place at UFC 166 in Houston, Texas. However, long before that date the current Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight champion had a premonition there would be a third battle even before the rematch took place.
"First time I fought him I knew we were going to fight some more," Velasquez recently told MMAmania.com at the "UFC World Tour" press stop in New York City. "I would win the second one and we would both be 1-1 and we're going to decide it with a third one."
Velasquez looked drastically different in the second tilt between the top-two UFC heavyweights at UFC 155 in Dec. 2012. The American Kickboxing Academy (AKA)-trained fighter was much more aggressive with takedown attempts and his overall movement inside the Octagon. Yes, he fell victim to a big "Cigano" punch and got knocked out in their first encounter at UFC on Fox 1 in Nov. 2011; however, after his performance in the rematch it became more evident how much he was hampered by his knee injury the night he lost his belt.
"I couldn't do the stuff that I did in the second fight," Velasquez admitted. "Even in training ... I couldn't practice what I wanted to do in the fight, and you saw the end result in the first fight."
After seeing dos Santos defeat Mark Hunt at UFC 160 with a spinning back-kick knockout, the rubber match could take on an entirely different fashion than the first two. The accomplished (12-1) Heavyweight is preparing for different dos Santos strategies, but he is sticking with what works best for himself.
"We are definitely going to look for different stuff coming from him because he could change his game plan up ... or not," Velasquez said. "So our style stays the same, going to keep that pace going forward -- punches, takedowns, always looking for an opening for anything. That's just my style of fighting, so we are going to keep doing that."
It's possible that dos Santos, who is currently the No. 2-ranked fighter in the division, could fight Velasquez a fourth or even a fifth time based on the outcome. That said, the division has become stronger recent additions such as Josh Barnett and other fighters moving up the ranks like Stipe Miocic.
"It's good to always have guys come in who are winning," Velasquez said. "It makes our weight class stronger, which it is. Right now we'll see about this fight itself and then we'll see about the other guys."
Although Velasquez maybe headed to a third fight with dos Santos, sitting next to him at the UFC World Tour presser was a fighter he may one day face, Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones. The 205-pound champ has openly expressed his interest to eventually move up a weight class, and MMAmania.com even had both champions square off (see staredown pic here) for the fans much to the delight of the raucous crowd.
Has the two-time UFC Heavyweight champ given a "super" bout with "Bones" any thought?
"I don't think about it," Velasquez said. "It could possibly happen. I'm always a guy where I won't get excited or think about anything unless it's there, unless he did move up already and he is right in front of me."
On the flip side, the Heavyweight who has been on Jones radar is Velasquez's AKA teammate and close friend Daniel Cormier. He has been calling out Jones for a while now (details here) and Velasquez thinks his confidence is well placed.
"I think he would go in there and beat Jones for sure," he predicted.
Seeing Anderson Silva lose his title to Chris Weidman recently sent a shock throughout the MMA community. Velasquez knows what it's like to lose his belt and it's something he doesn't want to experience for a second time.
"Just the feeling that I got when I lost it, I don't want that to happen again," he explained. "I learned a lot that there about myself just knowing how much I wanted it back."
We will learn even more from the UFC Heavyweight champion in a few more months at UFC 166 when he tries to become one of the few divisional kingpins to successfully defend the title for a second time. And after that, perhaps another date with destiny ... and maybe even dos Santos.