It all comes down to one night. At UFC 166 tomorrow night, Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez will meet in the cage for the third time.
What’s at stake? The UFC heavyweight championship — but also something bigger.
The two men are fighting for their position in history, to assume a place among the greatest who have ever done it.
In their first fight, Dos Santos took heavyweight gold in a matter of moments. Just 64 seconds after the bell rang to start the contest, Velasquez was on the mat, the adjective “former” suddenly inserted in front of “UFC champion.”
Whispers, however, soon emerged that Velasquez’s torn rotator cuff hadn’t quite healed before the fight. That he wasn’t at his best. That, although he would never say it, Dos Santos was on borrowed time.
It was a point proven, emphatically, at UFC 155 back in December. By the end of the night, Dos Santos was barely recognizable, his face battered by an unyielding Velasquez assault. Both standing and on the mat, where he took the fight at will, Velasquez was clearly the better fighter.
Can Velasquez repeat the feat this weekend in Houston at UFC 166?
There’s no reason to believe otherwise. While Dos Santos does have a puncher’s chance, something he proved emphatically in their first fight, Velasquez has a more well-rounded game.
He’s the perfect successor to Fedor Emelianenko, a heavyweight who can do it all, one just as skilled as any lightweight. Cain Velasquez is the next great heavyweight. And he intends to prove it in the octagon tomorrow night.