COMMENTARY | On May 25, 2013, at UFC 160, UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez (12-1) defended his title in dramatic fashion against one of the heaviest strikers within the mixed martial arts organization, Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva (18-5). In the co-main event, Junior dos Santos (16-2) went to war with MMA veteran Mark Hunt (9-8). Dos Santos ended Hunt's four-fight win streak, and positioned himself as the number one contender to the champion's title. He will now, for the third time, face Velasquez - the man who took his belt back in December 2012.
Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez continued his reign over the heavyweight division by chopping down one of its largest contenders in Silva. A little over a minute into the first round, the champion struck the 6'4", 263-pound behemoth with a right cross that sent him down. Silva recovered enough to turtle up, but remained defensive until the referee stopped the bout just 81 seconds into the first round.
Meanwhile, in the co-main event, dos Santos battered and bruised a heavy-handed Hunt. Throughout their three round affair, the "Super Samoan" offered little offense, as dos Santos managed to keep Hunt at the end of his punches. The former heavyweight champion rocked his opponent in the very first round with an overhand right that dropped and dazed Hunt.
The former K-1 kickboxer recovered, only to find himself taken down and on his back at the end of the second round. The third round saw dos Santos finish Hunt with an awe-inspiring spinning heel kick that sent the Super Samoan to the canvas. This was followed up by more punches that forced the referee to halt the bout at 4:18.
Hunt had never before been knocked out in the UFC, and the loss put a damper on the New Zealander's championship title hopes. However, an even more interesting match-up emerged, as Velasquez and dos Santos will now face each other in a rubber match for the UFC heavyweight championship. At the UFC 160 post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White confirmed the imminent Velasquez/dos Santos trilogy. He stated:
"No Brainer. If you look at the way that both fights went, Junior destroys him in the first fight. Cain destroys him in the second fight; I can't wait to see the third fight. They both looked awesome tonight; they're the two best heavyweights in the world. That's the fight."
Given how extremely one-sided both Velasquez/dos Santos I & II were, White's excitement regarding a trilogy is understandable. However, not everyone is sold on the rubber match and its ability to deliver. Award-winning veteran sportswriter Kevin Iole expressed such doubt, and downplayed the heavyweights' first two encounters. He exclaimed:
"The build-up will be massive - it always is for a title fight between a champion and a former champion who also happen to be the two best men in the division - but it could also be a setup up for a major letdown. There wasn't anything compelling in either of those first two fights." Iole continued, "…despite five-plus rounds with each other, they haven't put together that memorable battle against each other."
At UFC on Fox I, Velasquez/dos Santos I ended in a stunningly short span of time. Dos Santos knocked out the then-heavyweight champion, Velasquez, in 64 seconds. He went on to defend the title against former heavyweight champion Frank Mir at UFC 146. The Brazilian, however, then suffered a five-round beating at the hands of Velasquez a little more than a year later at UFC 155. Both bouts with Velasquez and dos Santos were equal and exact opposite representations of the one-sided dominance one combatant held over the other, with both men taking a fight a piece.
The trilogy between these heavyweights should be nothing less than memorable and exciting. Velasquez and dos Santos' third meeting will bring full circle and put to rest an almost two-year saga that has developed between the two greatest heavyweights in the UFC. It will also force both men to show up at their best and deliver a championship bout of epic proportions. As White stated at the UFC 160 post-fight press conference, "If there was ever a trilogy, that's it right there."
Clinton Alexander Bullock has been a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner for many years. He has studied mixed martial arts for 12 years and has been published in the Yahoo! News, the Bleacher Report, Philadelphia Sunday Sun Newspaper, and Next Step Magazine. Follow him on MMAUnchained.net, Facebook & Twitter @clintonbullock.
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