UFC 166: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos III Preview

UFC on Fox: Velasquez v Dos Santos - Press Conference

Every sport in the world is built on the same foundation — rivalries. 

Ali. Frazier.

Yankees. Red Sox.

Ohio State. Michigan. 

Real Madrid. Barcelona. 

The main event of UFC 166 is perhaps MMA's best rivalry to date. 

UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez looks to defend not only his UFC title but also his title of "Baddest Man On The Planet" when he takes on former champion and go-to KO artist Junior Dos Santos for a third time. Both men hold one victory over the other but on Saturday night we'll find out which one is truly the best.

Let's take a closer look at this historic matchup.

Junior Dos Santos (16-2)

"Cigano" is the pre-eminent striker in the UFC heavyweight division. His boxing ability is unmatched and when you consider the combination of speed and force of which he throws, he is as deadly as it gets.

Unfortunately for Dos Santos he will be facing the man who has dominated him like no other. For Dos Santos to once again become champion, it all starts with the pressure. Velasquez set an immense pace on Dos Santos when they last met up and the former champ seemed completely flustered. Dos Santos will have to fight with a sense of urgency when the opening bell sounds. 

You can bet Velasquez will have a similar game plan going into this fight but he may rely on his wrestling more on this occasion so Dos Santos must land a big shot early – similar to their first bout.

If he could at the very least hurt the champion, Dos Santos can keep the fight right where he wants it and that's in the middle of the octagon. Velasquez seems to be the better kick boxer of the two but Dos Santos is clearly the better boxer. He also has added some impressive kicks to his game, just go ask Mark Hunt. 

Dos Santos must get the champion out of there early. There is no way he can matchup for five rounds with the cardio Velasquez proudly displays. 


Cain Velasquez (12-1)

There is no doubt that the current UFC heavyweight champion is one of the best we've ever seen. Aside from his incredible speed and technically ability, Velasquez may be the best wrestler in the sport. He also has the finest gas tank we've ever seen on a heavyweight.

After Dos Santos brutally KO'ed Velasquez two years ago it seemed as the champion's loss pushed him towards the prime of his career. Since then Velasquez does nothing but come forward. Instead of taking more risks than he needed to by fighting in the pocket, Velasquez now uses his wrestling and cardio exclusively to push the pace of other heavyweights who just can't match up. When you combine that with his tremendous speed and kickboxing ability it seems that the champion is pretty much unbeatable. 

To retain the title Velasquez will just need to do what he did in their second matchup but this time he ought to finish it. By pushing the pace on his opponent, the champ can find himself in the same spectacular position as he did in their last fight when he had Dos Santos looking like a drowning man.

Velasquez cannot stand in the pocket for too long with his rival – he must keep the constant movement and pressure on Dos Santos. He cannot allow him to plant his feet. 


The Bottom Line

According to Bodog, Velasquez (-225) is the slight favorite over Dos Santos (+175) and rightfully so. The last time they fought was only 10 months ago and Velasquez's dominant victory is still fresh in all of our minds. However, if there is anyone that can derail the Cain Velasquez train it's Junior Dos Santos. Why? Because he's already done it before.

I'll ask the same question I've always asked..

Who are you picking?

Zachary Hutton is the lead boxing writer and an MMA contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can see what he's up to at his band's website myunclethewolf.com or also subscribe on Facebook.

Photo Credit: Getty