Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE
The first meeting between the current two best MMA heavyweights ended in a somewhat anti-climatic fashion, but now Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos get a second chance to spark a possibly great MMA rivalry.
UFC on Fox 1 featured what promised to be an all-time great heavyweight clash, Cain Velasquez was the Heavyweight Champion and Junior dos Santos was the challenger. Both were young, supremely talented fighters with skill sets that contrasted in a way that promised an exciting fight. It very much looked like the first chapter in a possible title fight trilogy that could go down in UFC history as a great Heavyweight rivalry.
And while there was nothing boring about the quick knockout that dos Santos notched, it did take a lot of the air out of their possible rivalry, one that UFC could very much use. Rivalries are often what makes the difference for a sporting event from simply being intriguing to being special, and this is universal across sports. From Magic vs Bird, to Ohio State vs Michigan, to the Yankees vs Red Sox, these rivalries are instantly recognizable to sports fans.
And the sport of MMA was built on rivalries, the very first UFC kicked off the brief Ken Shamrock/Royce Gracie rivalry, and Shamrock's rivalry with TIto Ortiz helped launch the UFC into the main stream, and UFC 100 owed a great deal of its success to the animosity between heavyweights Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir. And while there does not seem to be any dislike between Velasquez and dos Santos this isn't a requirement, as Chuck Liddell's and Randy Couture's trilogy proved. As long as there is action in the cage everyone is happy.
The style match up between Velasquez and dos Santos has all the makings of excitement. Velasquez witnessed that he cannot just sit back because of dos Santos' power, so he wil be forced to press the attack on dos Santos. The champion on the other hand will likely be looking to counter Cain on the feet and defend against takedowns. And if grappling occurs, it will be a fight for control as dos Santos tries to escape Velasquez's grasp.
Everyone involved with the UFC is certainly hoping for a competitive match that will help spark the possibility of another match down the road. Clearly a Velasquez victory makes a third match up have a better narrative and a rubber match between the two champions would likely be a big seller. But a JDS win in a competitive bout would not be a deal breaker, as it is quite possible Velasquez could spend a year or two collecting big wins in the division and get a third match with dos Santos.
In either event there is a great chance that Velasquez/dos Santos II could go down in MMA history as one of the great heavyweight clashes and MMA fans could be treated to something truly special.