UFC: Irresistible force Cain Velasquez meets the immovable object Junior Dos Santos in Houston
They don’t get any bigger than the heavyweight championship of the world and that’s exactly what’s on the line this Saturday night. Houston, Texas is the place to be as current UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and former divisional kingpin Junior Dos Santos go to war for the third and probably final time.
Their trilogy defining meeting has been anticipated by the MMA community for quite some time and for good reason. JDS possesses sublimely accurate stand-up whilst Velasquez has appeared simply irresistible in recent outings, none more so than his five round beat down of his Brazilian foe in 2012’s end of year show. It was Cain’s utter dominance in the MGM Grand a mere 10 months ago which has him rightly installed as the strong favorite to retain his title this weekend. To be frank I find it almost impossible to back against the stoic Mexican in what is evidently his fighting prime. At 31-years-old and with cardio to burn Velasquez knows what it’s like to relinquish his belt and the experience has without doubt made him a more evolved, dangerous and indeed well rounded athlete. Dos Santos for his part found out at first hand what the trappings of being UFC champ mean and those same distractions of fame and fortune may have had a decisively adverse effect on his preparations last time out. Whilst JDS retains the irrefutable punching power which has led him to contemplate fighting the Kilithckos, this isn’t a boxing match and Velasquez simply has too many tools and too much athleticism to be denied. Velasquez by stoppage in the second…
Cormier and Nelson meet at the crossroads
Co-Main on the card is the meeting of Dana White’s favorite bearded brawler and Oklahoma state alum Daniel Cormier. Cormier has rightly lobbied to force Nelson to trim the facial hair which has become as much a key element of his persona as his everyman waistline and laid back demeanor. Regardless of the trivialities this one will answer a lot of questions about Daniel Cormier, as Roy Nelson is no easy date. Whilst Cormier hasn’t set the world alight in his UFC tenure thus far, I do believe that the trajectory of their respective careers differs greatly. “Big Country” has a great chin, a sledgehammer right hand and unrivalled heart but at 37-years-old and with a few too many bouts under his increasingly tighter belt how many more glory nights has he in the tank? In what could transpire to be a crossroads bout for its protagonists Cormier should prove too technical for Nelson en route to another uninspiring decision for the former US Olympian.
Melendez to get first UFC win
Gilbert Melendez is a fighters’ fighter. Quiet, unassuming, hard working and ferocious “El Nino” remains a key player at 155lbs. Having toiled in the wilderness that was Strikeforce in its latter years Melendez came up short against now former champ Ben Henderson last time out (a decision which still perplexes me). The Cesar Gracie brown belt has long been recognized as one of the very best lightweights in the world and will notch his first UFC win against TUF1 stalwart Diego Sanchez come Saturday night.
“Toquinho” had to go
There’s been a lot said about one Rousimar Palhares this week given his blatant wrenching of a heel hook well after referee Keith Peterson attempted to drag him off. Whether Palhares intended to inflict more superfluous pain on his opponent or not is somewhat academic as there is a strong probability that it would happen again given his previous misdemeanors in this regard. As talented a fighter as he is he was a liability to the sport, the UFC and most importantly to defeated opponents. He really did leave Zuffa brass with no option but to issue him with his walking papers and few would disagree. It’s a shame for BJJ aficionados as Palhares possessed an unrivalled leg lock game and when he behaved himself was an unadulterated pleasure to watch.
Bisping to welcome Diaz to 185lbs?
The talk of sin city this week has been that Mike Bisping is going to have the dubious pleasure of welcoming Nick Diaz back to Octagon action following a brief self imposed hiatus. This is one fight that would guarantee cutting sound bites and stand-up exchanges a plenty. Given Diaz’ Strikeforce highlight knockout of Paul Daley there’d be a certain amount of poetic justice if “The Count” were able to school the enigmatic Stockton brawler. Its just a pity it couldn’t have fallen on this month’s Manchester card.
Loughran hangs ‘em up
Final word this week goes to one of the true gentlemen of European MMA Greg Loughran. “The Hitman” has recently hung up the gloves and strides to pastures anew having vacated the Cage Contender lightweight strap as the promotions champion. A product of the EFR Gym under the pupilage of David Patterson, Loughran didn’t receive the universal plaudits that are often lavished upon less talented athletes nowadays. The Bellator vet shared the cage with Rob Sinclair, Jonathon Brookins, Andre Winner and Eddie Alvarez amongst others in a storied cv. The self-evasive County Antrim man has long been respected by his peers throughout the UK and Ireland and will be greatly missed on the regional fight scene.
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