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UFC 160 fight card: Cain Velasquez vs Antonio Silva 2 preview

What do both Cain Velasquez and Antonio Silva need to do to walk away with the UFC Heavyweight title? Find out below

The stakes are raised tomorrow night (May 25, 2013) as Cain Velasquez puts his title on the line against Antonio Silva in a rematch for UFC 160's main event in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Cain Velasquez
: 11-1 overall, 9-1 in the UFC
Key Wins
: Junior dos Santos (UFC 155), Brock Lesnar (UFC 121), Antonio Silva (UFC 146)
Key Losses
: Junior dos Santos (UFC on Fox)

How he got here: Velasquez, despite being undersized throughout his wrestling career, was able to become a two-time NCAA Division I All-American while competing at Arizona State University. When he was done with college, he immediately transitioned into mixed martial arts (MMA).

Trainers and other MMA fighters immediately began raving about his potential and he was signed by the UFC after just his second professional fight. He was built up slowly, earning victories over the likes of Brad Morris, Jake O'Brien and Denis Stojnić in his first year with the promotion

But, after a spirited effort against Ben Rothwell, it was time for the big dogs.

Velasquez battled Pride FC legend "Minotauro" Nogueira in the main event of UFC 110 for the UFC's debut in Australia, knocking out the former interim UFC champion before the midway point of the first round. This earned him a fight against Lesnar for the title. When they finally met, Lesnar blitzed Velasquez, who held his ground, weathering the early storm and then destroyed Lesnar with punches and knees standing, following it up with precise ground and pound to become the new UFC heavyweight champion.

After taking more than one year off to recover from shoulder surgery, he looked a step slow, suffering a first round knockout loss to Junior dos Santos. He bounced back in a big way, throttling his upcoming opponent Antonio Silva in a violent first round rampage last May. In his rematch for the title, he proceeded to take it to dos Santos for five straight rounds, winning a dominant unanimous decision to reclaim the belt.

Now, he's set to take on SIlva again, who's more than earned his rematch.

How he gets it done: Velasquez is incredibly athletic and has cardio for days. He has the speed and agility to present Silva some serious problems.

The key for Velasquez is to utilize his speed, dance around with terrific footwork and create an opening against the bigger, slower Silva. "Bigfoot" has been dropped by both American Kickboxing Academy opponents he's faced in his career thus far so it's certainly not out of the realm of possibility that Velasquez could catch him too.

Another key for the champion is to push a relentless pace. "Bigfoot" is very powerful, but if Velasquez can wear on him either in the clinch or on the ground, he'll be setting himself up for a highlight reel finish. Even if he can't get a takedown, he needs to make Silva work extra hard to fend them off, which will take up much-needed energy.

Constant pressure and avoiding exchanges in the pocket will help Velasquez repeat his success from last year. As long as he can stay in top position on the ground and drop those nasty elbows, he could definitely open "Bigfoot" up again and force an early end to the title fight.

Antonio Silva
: 18-4 overall, 2-1 in the UFC
Key Wins
: Alistair Overeem (UFC 154), Travis Browne (UFC on FX 5), Fedor Emelianenko (Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva)
Key Losses
: Cain Velasquez (UFC 146), Fabricio Werdum (Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Rogers)

How he got here: Of all places, Antonio Silva actually began his MMA career in the United Kingdom. "Bigfoot" began his training at the Wolfslair academy in the UK. After destroying everyone in his path in England, Silva branched out, losing to Eric Pele at Bodog Fight before settling at EliteXC.

He would shine in EliteXC, winning four straight over the likes of UFC veterans Wesley Correira and Ricco Rodriguez before winning the promotion's heavyweight title against Justin Eilers. He would be popped for steroids after the victory and never got a chance to explain himself or defend his belt before the promotion folded with the Kimbo Slice debacle.

After a couple easy wins in Japan, Silva signed with Strikeforce to compete against its stocked heavyweight division. Silva would drop a decision to Fabricio Werdum in his promotional debut.

"Bigfoot" has since found his stride, defeating the likes of Andrei Arlovski, Mike Kyle and most impressively of all, ground and pounding Fedor Emelianenko to oblivion this past February in the first round of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix in a career-defining victory.

Silva would be upset by the eventual tournament winner Daniel Cormier, losing via first round knockout and before he'd get another opportunity to fight for Strikeforce, he was signed to the UFC's heavyweight division. When Frank Mir got a title shot, "Bigfoot" stepped up to the co-main event against Velasquez, but was met with some serious resistance, losing his second straight fight to an AKA opponent inside the first round.

The Brazilian bounced back in a big way, handing Travis Browne the first loss of his professional career last October and he shocked the world by knocking former Strikeforce champ and top contender Alistair OVereem out to earn a shot at the belt as well as a rematch against Velasquez

How he gets it done: Silva has been putting in the time to slim down and improve his speed so he's not as easy of a target, but he's still going to have a nice size advantage against Velasquez.

"Bigfoot" has a reach advantage over Velasquez which could give the American wrestler some serious fits if he can utilize movement and work his jab in the stand-up department. Look for the Brazilian fighter to try and pepper Velasquez with straight punches.

Cain has been hurt before, getting dropped by Kongo and knocked out by dos Santos so Silva definitely has a puncher's chance. If he rocks Velasquez, he can't let him off the hook. Silva will have to absolutely sell out working for the finish. He has to get that big shot in before Velasquez can start to push the pace and outwork him. Silva's window for finishing this fight is much shorter than in his last bout against Overeem, as Velasqeuz will not fade, will not slow down and will not relent. He has to land that clipping blow and follow up or he's going to see a repeat of the last time these two men met.

Fight X-Factor: The biggest factor here is how will each man respond and evolve heading into the rematch. Both men are incredibly dangerous, but Velasquez battered Silva senseless the first time around in one of 2012's most one-sided bouts. If Velasquez comes in just as motivated and just as mean, he's got a very good chance of winning.

That being said, Silva's confidence is likely at an all-time high considering the impressive showings he's put on in his last two fights, scoring very exciting and brutal knockouts of top 10 opposition. If Silva has the confidence to land that big shot, he might just pull it off.

Bottom Line: Cain Velasquez is likely going to be pushing a tremendous pace in this fight. He always puts on a show, is very active and aggressive both standing and on the ground. He's not your typical heavyweight. I expect him to really push Silva to the limit and if Silva can respond and raise his level, we could be in for an extremely entertaining heavyweight fight. There's no way Velasquez gasses so if "Bigfoot" fades, he's going to be in some serious trouble and that's something the fans can get excited about.

Who will come out on top at UFC 160? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!

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