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UFC 160: Cain Velasquez v. Antonio Silva II

UFC heavyweight beltholder Cain Velasquez (L) faces Brazilian Antonio Silva at UFC 160. Photo courtesy

There are too many great match-ups at UFC 160 to break down in one article. But there are two heavyweight tilts that loom large. Current Champ Cain Velasquez takes on Brazilian Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva, and in the co-headliner, former champion Junior dos Santos takes on K-1 kickboxer  Mark Hunt.

UFC president Dana White said if JdS wins he’ll get a shot at the title. If you follow MMA Musings you may know my feelings on the HW title fight where Cain took the belt from JdS. I contend the fight was thrown. Every time I re-watch  that fight it reaffirms the observation.

At any rate, Velasquez v. Silva is an interesting matchup. Cain already beat Silva once, in May, 2012, a first round, lopsided ground-and-pound beating of a TKO. But Silva’s more than impressive TKO of Travis Browne and KO of Alistair Overeem earned him the shot. Question is, has Silva learned enough from his earlier loss to Velasquez to implement his will and game plan?

Probably not. Velasquez is a different kind of  fighter. Despite being a decorated wrester and a technical striker with The American Kickboxing Academy, his greatest weapon is his gas tank, which allows him to outpace opponents without losing speed, accuracy, or timing. It’s deceptive watching him fight. He doesn’t look like the kind of fighter with 9 TKO/KOs of 11 wins, because he usually does it leading with his cardio.

Silva is a big man, but is susceptible to being finished, as Cain proved, and as Daniel Cormier proved before that. Bigfoot’s impressive finishes in his last two fights come against men unlike Velasquez. But for Bigfoot, the solution should be simple, even if its execution isn’t.

Bigfoot has no chance winning this fight if he hasn’t been working day and night on takedown defense. He needs to keep the fight standing. But to keep the fight standing, the Brazilian also needs to make it a quick finish, because as the fight moves into the second round and beyond, his cardio cannot keep pace with Velasquez’s and he will go down.

Antonio Silva will have learned from his loss and will make this fight more difficult for Cain, but the American will win via TKO in round 2.

JdS v. Hunt

Junior dos Santos has the best boxing in the UFC. His movement, footwork, and power make him a devastating knockout artist. Anyone who thinks his KO of Velasquez in 2011 was a fluke  understands little about striking or JdS. His stellar use of the jab and impeccable uppercuts are unequalled. Their absence was a major clue to the second title fight’s lack of veracity.

Hunt is a sound mixed martial artist with a K-1 kickboxing background. The difference between Hunt and kickboxers like Mirko Cro Cop and Cheik Kongo is that Hunt doesn’t have the plodding European style of point fighting. Hunt actually fights, and can throw serious power from nearly any position or direction of movement. He could probably knock out many contenders while sitting in a chair eating a hamburger.

This fight is very dangerous for JdS inside. The Brazilian typically moves laterally and strikes like a cobra before moving out and to the side. But if Hunt clips JdS on the way in or out, it could spell doom for the former champ, and put the kibosh on a rematch with Cain.

Hunt is on a four fight tear, and trains with Jackson’s Martial Arts, so you know his game plan will be up to snuff. Although he has a ground game, it’s not the Nogueira-trained BJJ black belt JdS boasts.

JdS fights with movement and angles not offered by Hunt’s last four victims. It’s unlikely JdS will present the target Stefan Struve did before Hunt snapped his jawbone in two. And if JdS senses trouble on the feet, he has the option to take it down to the mat.

As a huge JdS fan, I have a bad feeling about this fight. My heart and brain tell me JdS will use superior movement and footwork, and perhaps takedowns, on his way to a unanimous decision or even a late finish, but my gut tells me Hunt is going to connect and shock the MMA world.

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Follow me on Twitter @RenkoStyranka

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