Junior dos Santos will meet Cain Velasquez in the main event of UFC 166 on Oct. 19 in Houston, the third time in less than two years that the men have met with the heavyweight title at stake.
Dos Santos took the belt from Velasquez at UFC on Fox 1 on Nov. 12, 2011, with a 64-second TKO. Velasquez regained the belt and evened the series when he routed dos Santos and scored a wide five-round decision on Dec. 29, 2012, at UFC 155 in Las Vegas.
UFC officials would love for the rivalry to become heated, as it would stoke pay-per-view sales. As it is, both men are affable, low-key sorts who usually have little bad to say about the other.
Dos Santos, though, may have taken the first step toward creating a true rivalry when he said during a lengthy interview done in Portuguese and linked here that Velasquez "hits like a girl."
He was trying to explain his surprisingly poor performance against Velasquez at UFC 155 when he made the remark, which seems like an attempt at humor.
After my last fight with Velasquez, I was too bloated. My face was completely deformed. I went to the hospital. I had no cuts against Cain Velasquez. He hits like a girl. We say in boxing about people who 'catch,' who have that punch that you really feel or that cuts your face or knocks you down. He hit me a lot during the five rounds, but did not open anything, although I finished very bloated and had to go to the hospital.
The term catch is a Brazilian slang term for heavy punching power.
Now, dos Santos already admitted he was overtrained for the fight. And in an extensive interview with Yahoo! Sports, he repeatedly praised Velasquez.
But though he made a joke about it's power, it's likely that he does believe that Velasquez is not the biggest puncher around. He called Velasquez "my biggest adversary" but had some interesting things to say about light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
He is taller than me; he has the biggest reach in the UFC. He is a specialist using his knees and elbows. I like him a lot; I'm a fan of his. I like to watch his fights because he plays offensive and ends fights. But if he comes to heavyweight and if the UFC wants us to fight, I will give the best of me.
A dos Santos-Jones fight would be a massive event for the UFC, as would a Velasquez-Jones fight. The winner of the rubber match at UFC 166 might be the guy who ultimately gets to Jones first.
Hat tip to Fernando Arbex of Yahoo! Brazil for the Portuguese-to-English translation of dos Santos' remarks.