It’s time, folks. The UFC is marketing Cain Velasquez/Junior dos Santos III as the final fight between the two, the ‘final chapter’, they are donning it. I doubt that will be the case. Velasquez is only 31 and dos Santos is just 29. There’s plenty of years left between both fighters and I’m sure a fourth and maybe even a fifth fight could happen over the most part of the next decade. Dana White’s henchman Daniel Cormier takes on “Big Country” Roy Nelson, who will be fighting in his first fight of nine that he signed for with the UFC. Let’s be honest: Dana only signed Nelson because of the following he has. Diego Sanchez and Gilbert Melendez will be fighting in a prestigious Lightweight battle. I can’t wait. Sanchez brings so much intensity to the octagon, and he’s easily one of my favorite fighters in all of mixed martial arts. Melendez last fought in April when he faced Benson Henderson for the Lightweight title. A big time fight to pay attention to.
Diego Sanchez vs. Gilbert Melendes
You have to acknowledge Gilbert Melendez is coming off a potentially heartbreaking split-decision loss for the UFC title. Now, are we concerned? Not really. Melendez had his share of “letdown” spots as a Strikeforce champion and took care of business. He ‘should’ beat Diego Sanchez, but what does that mean? Sanchez is fearless and a good brawler because he tucks his chin, gets in range and throws straight, fairly accurate punches. On the outside, though, Melendez has a piston of a right hand that will find him. Inside, Melendez is more physical and will get the positions he wants. Melendez has never been finished, and his wide stance and wrestling ability will thwart any Sanchez attempt to get it to the ground.
I’m glad to see Sanchez back at Lightweight, where I believe he’s more effective. This is a tough fight, though. However, I think he’ll pull out a victory. Sanchez by unanimous decision.
Daniel Cormier vs. Roy Nelson
There is no big secret to Roy Nelson. Seven of his last eight wins came via knockout in the first round. His last five losses have been decisions. He throws that terrifying right hand early, and if he doesn’t land it, he fades. It does appear “Big Country” has lost some weight, which is absolutely, 100 percent helpful. Daniel Cormier, though, isn’t easy to hit. His cerebral, confident approach helps that. He’s dedicated himself to good technique and has enough confidence to throw anything in a fight. Underlying fact, though, is that Cormier could wrestle this. Nelson is flat-footed, which makes him an easier takedown target. As good as we know his ground game is, his last official submission was in 2006.
Is Nelson in outstanding shape? We’ll find out. Cormier has the ability to test that — grind him along the fence and leave no room to throw that right hand. Ultimately, that’s what I see unfolding. Cormier might be able to box around it, but why play with a nuclear bomb if you don’t have to? Cormier by decision.
Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez (c)
Between every round of the second fight, Junior dos Santos’ corner begged him to keep his hands up. He never did. If he’s to beat Cain Velasquez this time, he has to defend himself. Leaning back and slipping out of range won’t work on Velasquez, who is constantly forward with combinations. Dos Santos needs to move his head, parry punches, counter and circle out. Keeping his hands low helps takedown defense, but whatever. His hips can defend the takedown. His hands need to block punches. Velasquez is more versatile, but Dos Santos is more dangerous — and he’s not so far behind on the ground that you really worry about him being smothered. Move, Junior. Counterpunch, move and, seriously, defend yourself.
Both should be completely mentally prepared for what’s coming. They have each fallen victim to the other’s skill set. A heavyweight fight can end at any time, but I think we finally see a fight between these two with back-and-forth action. Velasquez by decision.