Breaking down the UFC’s historic debut on network television
CAIN VELASQUEZ VS. JUNIOR DOS SANTOS
I went back and forth on this just like everyone else in the world, and just like nearly everyone else in the world, I’ve come to the realization that Cain Velasquez has the best chance of winning what will be a closely-contest fight.
I keep picturing one thing in my head: Junior dos Santos growing ever more tired as he beats the living crap out of both Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson. Dos Santos doesn’t have the best gas tank. He’s better than many – and certainly better than Carwin or Nelson – but he’s nowhere in the stratosphere of Cain Velasquez.
Velasquez can go five rounds without getting tired. This isn’t hyperbole, just fact. He’s the heavyweight Energizer bunny and has the kind of cardio that will allow him to go the distance in this fight without worrying about his body failing him. The cardio game is the most important factor of a long heavyweight title fight, and Velasquez is in shape for the grind.
He’ll need to be smart, of course. He can’t go in the cage and try a boxing match on for size, because that would virtually ensure that he gets knocked out by Dos Santos. But if Velasquez goes in the cage, constantly presses the actions and looks for takedowns, he’s going to quickly wear JDS out. Perhaps even by the end of the second round. Once this thing goes into deeper waters, it belongs to Velasquez, and that’s where he’ll cement his standing as the best heavyweight in the world.
BEN HENDERSON VS. CLAY GUIDA
Once again, we have a fight that will be decided on cardio. The only difference? Both of these guys have limitless gas tanks. That’s the key for any lightweight stepping in the cage with Guida – you have to be able to meet his frenetic pace. Henderson can do that.
Henderson’s jiujitsu is better than Guida’s. His wrestling is fantastic, and I think he wins the standup game as well. This may be Guida’s last gasp at lightweight title contention, but I believe Henderson will send him back to the end of the line much like he did Jim Miller. He’ll go on to face Frankie Edgar in Japan in February.
DUSTIN POIRIER VS. PABLO GARZA
Garza’s main deficiency is his striking game. Poirier’s main offense is his striking game. It’s dynamic and powerful, and it’s going to give Poirier a pretty big edge over a guy who has really turned his career around over the last year.
Garza does have plenty of length, though, and his main concern needs to be keeping Poirier at bay. If he can do that and utilize his unconventional grappling to get the fight to the ground, he stands a chance of winning. I don’t see it happening, though.
PRELIMINARY CARD PREDICTIONS
Cub Swanson d. Ricardo Lamas
Clay Harvison d. Damarques Johnson
Kid Yamamoto d. Darren Uyenoyama
Robert Peralta d. Mackens Semerzier
Alex Caceres d. Cole Escovedo
Mike Pierce d. Paul Bradley
Aaron Rosa d. Matt Lucas