Heart— Junior Dos Santos has it. Just how many people can survive such a beating to immediately, surely, and confidently come back with the statement below? When I search for a word to epitomize Junior Dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez, vengeance comes to mind.
"Cain Velasquez, like you said, I’m going to come back and I’m going to take the belt again"
Junior is without a doubt, a man amongst men.
For Cain, JDS handed him his first loss and stripped him of his championship. For JDS, Cain handed him his first UFC loss and thus regained his belt. Both fights had occurred in a dominating fashion for the winner; both felt embarrassment, defeat, and glory due to their fateful bouts.
Without each other, they would likely have remained the king of heavyweights: "the baddest man on the planet".
Realistically, aside from the rushed timing of this fight, I couldn’t have imagined a better story or rivalry. This fight has that potential: the bout that will forever be etched in their soul when they reflect back on their most meaningful fight. This fight certainly has the potential to be greatness-defining.
On the flipside, if either individual is dominated again, a defeat in a trilogy of such kind is enough to make any accomplish man bitter. In my opinion, one can only have an indomitable spirit at the highest level for so long. It will certainly be a sad sighting if domination occurs.
But my intuitions tell me that it's not going to happen; it tells me that Cain vs. JDS III will be a dogfight. Many are counting JDS out, and if judging it by nothing else but the 5 rounds seen in their last fight, it’d be justified. I don't think it's very justified however, and I have a feeling that this fight is going to be so much more than a "predictable domination".
Comparison to Other Fights:
Though the background of the Ali vs Frazier trilogy is not all that similar to JDS vs Cain (despite UFC’s attempt to make it appear so), I do believe that their third meet has the potential to resemble "Thrilla in Manilla".
On another note, this fight also brings to me a similar feeling of Jones vs. Gustafsson. Prior to the fight, so many had counted Gusafsson out just as they are counting JDS out. Jon Jones was simply "too good of a wrestler, too good of a striker". He was just "too good and too invincible". Fight variables weren’t considered very well for that bout, and in my opinion they aren’t for this bout either.
Will JDS equalize the statement that Cain is too good for him?
In most people’s opinion, they believe that it’s Cain’s fight to be taken away. They believe that it’s going to be about the big punch: that big overhand JDS lands over and over again. And that seems to be what the UFC is trying to sell.
Fights can be determined by the big punch, but way more often than not, they are determined by the set up of the punch. If Junior cannot establish other strikes and deter Cain’s aggressiveness, you can bet that he won’t find that big punch.
If Cain cannot effectively deter Junior’s long, linear-strikes, you can also bet he won’t land that big right-hand of his. The true essence of this fight is not determined by the big punch(es) by either fighters, but rather the deterrences and strategy that lead to them.
But perhaps most importantly, people see Junior’s performance in the last bout as what he is capable of. To these people, I ask you to consider this: show me another man that comes in with something like rhabdomyolysis, gets possibly concussed in the first round, and is still able to display grit and heart against a beast like Cain.
Don’t get me wrong, Cain’s strategy was excellent, allowing him to land that shot in the first round. But take such surprise strategy out, the big shot landed as the consequence, and the rhabdomyolysis: what would you predict instead?
The less tangible:
JDS displays a certain type of body language and confidence when he speaks of his abilities. It brings to me some type of mystique. Not the type of BS mystique Chael so often brings out, but something much more real. (On this note, ignore his BS troll Klitschko claims, he is not delusional or dumb enough to actually believe in it. It's simply a marketing ploy in my opinon.)
In other contexts, it’s as if he’s bringing something special to the table that he knows will surprise and deter his opponent's weapons. He’s the underdog, he knows it, and he is absolutely vengeful. He’s looking to prove people wrong, seemingly knowing that he can prove them wrong. In my opinion, that's a very dangerous man.
If you’ve read Jack Slack’s work or analyzed Cain before, the first few paragraphs won’t be anything new.
Velasquez jabs, comes forward, comes with a right hand, goes mostly for single legs. This is difficult to deal with because Junior has to back up (due to his less solid base and general –lateral- movement), and drop his lead hand more to deal with the takedowns.
This would be less of a problem if Junior’s defensive tendencies are head movement, shoulder rolls etc. (but it’s not). Junior is mainly an offensive fighter himself, as he excels at hitting you when you stand still or when you’re backing up. Junior will really mess you up if he can jab you.
Since Junior doesn’t have mastery of other defensive options such as deflection and evasive slips, and his main deterrence is jabbing his opponents… When that is taken out of the equation, he’s in big trouble.
The most important technical aspect is is that Junior often gets pushed back to the fence and into danger (vs. Hunt / Cain). His lack of lateral movement and emphasis on linear movement (also because of stance) is why he gets there a lot.
So the biggest question then: what will Junior bring to the table to deal with these problems?
Jack presents back-step punching and knees as solutions. A strategy can be to avoid action (Machida / Anderson-esque). I can certainly see this working as a means for Cain to chase, opening himself up for powerful strikes.
In my opinion, they are definitely excellent additions to Junior’s game plan if he doesn’t already have it in there. I can't wait to see what Junior will do.
I believe that in fighter’s workouts, they will display some "secrets". After all, you’d have to work very hard to hide muscle memory that you’ve drilled so continuously.
Let’s examine what Junior may bring to the table through this video:
Some interesting things to be noticed:
I’ve been paying attention to Junior’s workouts. In his most recent workout, he is displaying a very consistent stiff arm as he circles out. This is done with discipline after each time he strikes. The stiff-arm is a tactic that can greatly negate shots by controlling distance, as well making sure that a right hand strike would likely land on the shoulder (you could also roll it off the shoulder / deflect off the arm).
Rory Macdonald had employed the stiff-arm tactic (along with the jab) against Jake Ellenberger, and effectively negated the usually aggressive powerhouse puncher/wrestler. You can bet that the big right-hand Cain landed on Junior in the first round got him thinking.
There are also other interesting things to note: Junior looks for the side-step left hook, the back-step right-hand, back-step uppercut, back-step jab. You’ll also notice that he’s mostly moving back as he strikes. Even his trademark overhand that he repeatedly lands on his opponents, he is doing is off a back-step / back-pedal now.
While he did some of these in his previous workouts, they showed more stationary and forward step variety. These aren’t coincidences, and it’s quite clear they weren’t as consistent in his previous workouts. These techniques are very fight specific and you can bet that we’ll be seeing them this Saturday.
Will Junior get his vengeance? I cannot answer that question with certainty. And in my opinion, when the proper fight variables are considered, no one should be able to. I'll say this though: I will never count out such a man amongst men like so many others are doing. I believe that both fighters have what it takes to reign with greatness. I also believe that we're about to see one of the greatest wars we will ever see.
As always, thanks for reading.
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