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 Junior dos Santos and a chance to reclaim the gold he once held. Velasquez later capitalized, as he dethroned the Brazilian in a one-sided unanimous decision.
Speaking of dos Santos, he faces 2001 World Grand Prix winner Mark Hunt, the fighter with the longest active winning streak in the UFC heavyweight division.
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, Brock 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.
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 Renan 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.