UFC: Velasquez-Dos Santos III Promises More Fireworks

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In the world of the UFC, it’s common for a main event fight to be announced well in advance so the bout can be hyped to generate fan interest. None of that is necessary for the main event at UFC 166; simply seeing the names of Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos across from each other on the fight card has generated all of the hype this event will need.

The title fight between the top two heavyweights in the world will take place on Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Toyota Center in Houston and will be the third time that Velasquez and Dos Santos have fought for the belt.

The first two bouts between the fighters could not have been more different in outcome. Dos Santos won the title from the previously unbeaten Velasquez at UFC on Fox 1 in Nov., 2011 thanks to a vicious overhand right that led to a first-round knockout barely a minute into the match.

Thirteen months later, at UFC 155, Velasquez regained the belt by way of a dominant unanimous decision. The challenger took down Dos Santos 11 times in the fight and nearly doubled the champion’s total strike output, 111-57. Velasquez won all five rounds and showcased his superior conditioning and quickness, leaving Dos Santos visibly exhausted and with a broken jaw.

Velasquez’s return to the top of the heavyweight world also set the stage for a rubber match between the two fighters that will complete one of the most exciting trilogies in the history of the UFC.

Based on the results of the first two fights, it’s not difficult to see how each fighter would like the third bout to go. Dos Santos will be looking to use his outstanding power to land a knockout punch in the early rounds before the champion can establish his own pace to the fight. A key to the outcome of the fight will likely be how well ‘Cigano’ can avoid the numerous takedown attempts Velasquez is sure to throw at him.

For his part, the champion would probably like the fight to go the distance. As he showed in his victory at UFC 155, his conditioning is second to none and he is able to use that stamina to wear down fighters with a continuous barrage of quick jabs and power punches.

It will be a tough night for Dos Santos if Velasquez can take him down, as the champion is a former standout NCAA wrestler and is considered one of the best in the business at a ground and pound-style attack. Make no mistake, however, the California native is just as capable of ending this fight with one punch as Dos Santos is, as the champion’s staggering right hook in the first round of their last match showed.

That deciding bout, which was sold out less than three days after it was announced in July, features two fighters that have come to be very familiar with one another and are not above trading shots outside of the Octagon as well as in it. In the lead-up to the third fight, most of the barbs going back and forth have centered on the outcome of the second bout. Velasquez asserts that he could have submitted Dos Santos numerous times, but chose not to.

"My style of fighting, I'd rather end fights with ground and pound and stuff like that," Velasquez said. "I felt he took something away from me that was mine, and I figured I had to make him pay for that. That's why I didn't go for the submission."

Dos Santos, naturally, didn’t agree.

"He can say [whatever] he wants, but I know this: He gave everything he had to win that fight, and you could see at the end of the fight that he was really tired, and he tried to finish that fight very much, and he couldn't," the challenger said.

The time for verbal sparring is nearly over and Saturday’s rubber match is likely to be a spectacular show. Dos Santos and Velasquez have put Grand Canyon-type distance between themselves and the rest of the heavyweight class, so it is certainly possible that Saturday’s matchup will not be the last between the two. Even if it is not, however, this is clearly one of the most highly anticipated bouts in UFC history and it certainly needs no superficial hype.

Dylan Sinn is a freelance contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSinn or “like” CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.