Smartest Guy at the Bar: UFC 160 Edition
Vicious ground-and-pound and overwhelming cardio buoy Cain
Velasquez. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
The MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas will play host to a
heavyweight extravaganza for the second time in as many years.
Just 364 days after their first meeting,
Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight titleholder Cain
Velasquez at UFC
160 on Saturday will defend his crown against Antonio
Silva -- the same man he defeated to earn a rematch against
Santos and a chance to reclaim the gold he once held. Velasquez
later capitalized, as he dethroned the Brazilian in a one-sided
Speaking of dos Santos, he faces 2001 World Grand Prix winner
Hunt, the fighter with the longest active winning streak in the
UFC heavyweight division.
How We Got Here: According to the mythological
playbook we thought the UFC was following, Velasquez should be
attempting the first defense of his title against former Strikeforce
Overeem. Silva shattered those par-per-view dreams by
figuratively shattering Overeem’s face at UFC 156 in February. With
no real title-worthy opponent in the heavyweight cupboards, the
rematch no one thought would happen will indeed happen. Silva is a
talented, seasoned heavyweight, but he was bludgeoned and bloodied
so badly by Velasquez at UFC 146 that it seems almost morbid to put
him back in the cage again against the champion ... Former
titleholder dos Santos and rejuvenated kiwi Hunt will square off in
the co-main event, with the winner likely next up for heavyweight
gold ... Glover
Teixeira faces another test, this time against James Te
Huna, who is riding a four-fight winning streak ... Gray Maynard
Grant have been told by UFC President Dana White that the
winner of their scrap receives a shot against lightweight boss
Henderson ... Donald
Cerrone and K.J. Noons get the
main card started in a fun tilt at 155 pounds.
Teixeira is on a tear.
Hot Potato: The UFC heavyweights are playing hot
potato with the belt, and it has been that way for as long as the
title has been around. While other UFC champions like Anderson
Silva, Georges St.
Pierre and Jon Jones have
vice-like grips on their crowns, the same cannot be said at
heavyweight. Only Tim Sylvia,
Lesnar and Randy Couture
have made two consecutive title defenses at 265 pounds. Compare
that to “The Spider” (10), St. Pierre (eight) and Jones (five).
Heavyweight is supposed to be the money division in combat sports.
Big dudes throwing big punches equals big money, but a
longstanding, marketable heavyweight champion has always eluded the
UFC. Can Velasquez be the one?
Inside Track: One simply cannot call Velasquez the
first unbeatable UFC heavyweight champion when the one to man to
defeat him, dos Santos, is waiting in the wings and still in his
prime. However, it sure is tempting. Dos Santos ended Velasquez’s
first title reign with one punch at UFC on Fox 1, but the Arizona
State University All-American wrestler put together a 25-minute
destructive clinic against the Brazilian in the rematch. The two
heavyweights may fight each other five times before their careers
are over, but Velasquez has the inside track in this rivalry.
Spoiler Alert: Dangerous underdogs are a funny lot
to quantify. If they keep upsetting good opposition, the oddsmakers
take notice and start making them favorites; it is your basic cause
and effect. However, “Bigfoot” Silva gets no such love. In his last
five fights, he has been the betting underdog four times, upsetting
Overeem and Travis
Browne during that stretch. He is a 4-to-1 underdog against
Velasquez -- the exact same odds he faced when he upset
Emelianenko. Just some food for thought ... Style-wise, Hunt makes
for a dangerous underdog against dos Santos. Both men are heavy
hitters with solid chins who can swing for 15 minutes. Think about
the consequences and repercussions for a moment. Two and a half
years ago, Hunt was on a six-fight losing streak punctuated by a
63-second submission loss to Sean
McCorkle. Now, he has won four in a row and stands one victory
away from vying for UFC gold. Hunt entered the UFC on a
technicality in his
Pride Fighting Championships contract, and he has almost turned
it into the greatest comeback in MMA history.
“Bigfoot” is again the underdog.
Say What: Outside of Gilbert
Melendez, no lightweight has been a consistent top 10 fighter
longer than Maynard. Despite his success, “The Ultimate Fighter”
Season 5 semifinalist did not shy away from showing his disgust for
a split decision win over Clay Guida at
UFC on FX 4. Apparently, having one judge rule against him was
enough to set him off. If a second judge had followed suit, Maynard
was prepared to walk away from the sport, or so he told MMA Junkie:
“Most of the time, people get pissed at what I’m doing [in a
fight], but that time, I got pissed at what he was doing. It’s an
emotional sport. That happened, and I thank God I got the win on
that because I don’t even think I’d be in the sport right now.”
Useless Fact: Teixeira holds the third-longest
winning streak (18) of any current UFC fighter, behind only
Barao (20) and Khabib
Nurmagomedov (19). Teixeira’s run spans the UFC, Shooto, World
Extreme Cagefighting and other promotions. Here is hoping the
UFC gives him a top 10 opponent if he beats Te Huna.
Awards Watch: Cerrone and Noons should provide
plenty of fun in a “Fight of the Night” kind of way. I have a weird
feeling this bout was booked to facilitate Noons’ release, but it
will be so entertaining that they will both stick around, no matter
who wins … “Knockout of the Night” is tricky. The power punching
present in the Hunt-dos Santos matchup would be enough to topple
any heavyweight, but we are talking about two of the best chins in
the division. Think immovable object meets unstoppable force. Plan
ends with one of the two staring up at the lights wondering what
happened … “Submission of the Night” is the most difficult award to
pick -- unless Ronaldo Souza
is fighting Chris
Camozzi. That rings true here. Grant is more than capable of
submitting Maynard, and Velasquez nearly pulled off a great armbar
against dos Santos in their last meeting. However, Te Huna has five
losses, four of them by submission. Teixeira should lock down
something enjoyable in a scramble and cash a substantial bonus
check for his troubles.
Bowles returns from a lengthy hiatus.