Fight Analysis: Velasquez vs Dos Santos UFC on Fox

This weekend’s UFC Heavyweight World Championship title fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos has been described as the biggest in UFC history. It is the first time that the UFC will be featured on the prestigious Fox network in the US, marking the entry for the sport of MMA into the mainstream of American media.

A cardio machine, the current UFC Heavyweight World Champion Cain Velasquez has a perfect professional record of 9-0 and has won seven straight fights in the UFC. A devastating striker, Junior Dos Santos is 13-1 with crushing KO power in his hands. Only one of these two warriors will go home with the UFC crown on November 12 this weekend.

Their list of victims reads like a who’s who of heavyweight mixed martial artists. Dos Santos has defeated Mirko Crocop, Shane Carwin, and Roy Nelson while Velasquez has vanquished Chieck Kongo, Antonio Nogueira, and Brock Lesnar.

Here is a look at the keys to victory for each fighter this weekend.

Keys to victory for Cain Velasquez:

• Wrestling
Velasquez is an NCAA Division I wrestler and there is no question that his wrestling is superior to that of Dos Santos. If he can take Dos Santos down, use his weight to hold him down, and then gradually wear him out with ground and pound, he will win the fight.

• Clinch work
Cain cannot afford to stay in punching range with Dos Santos. The last thing that he needs is to turn this fight into a boxing match. He must use his speed to close the distance when Dos Santos is about to fire off his punches. Once in the clinch, Velasquez must press Dos Santos against the cage and utilize cage work and dirty boxing to wear his opponent down.

• Footwork and Muay Thai
Velasquez needs to use his footwork to stay out of range. He is actually a more versatile striker than Dos Santos is. Dos Santos only uses boxing, but Velasquez has good boxing and good Muay Thai. So he has more striking weapons at his disposal. Velasquez must either maintain distance at kicking range to avoid punches or close the gap quickly to get inside of Dos Santos' punches. He cannot stay in the pocket and exchange punches. If Cain can stay on the outside and use his fast kicks, he can build up points and slow down Dos Santos.

• Unpredictability and Gas tank
Dos Santos will have worked tirelessly on his takedown defence and will be expecting Velasquez to shoot. Velasquez needs to set up takedowns in an intelligent manner by using strikes and feints. Cain must use his endless cardio tank to his advantage and work at a frenetic pace in each minute of every round. He must do his best to try to gas out Dos Santos.

Keys to victory for Junior Dos Santos:

• Boxing
Dos Santos is a powerful puncher. He outstruck contender Shane Carwin with pinpoint accuracy and is arguably the most accomplished boxer in the heavyweight division. If he can keep the fight standing and turn it into a boxing match, he should be able to stop Velazquez inside the distance.

• Takedown defence
It is absolutely vital for Dos Santos that he doesn’t end up on his back. Wrestling is Velasquez’s greatest weapon and Dos Santos will need to neutralize it if he is to win the fight. To do so, he will need to be vigilant about spotting the threat of a takedown and to be prepared to sprawl at the slightest hint of a level change by Velasquez.

• Stand Up
If Dos Santos does get taken down by Velasquez, he must try to get back on his feet immediately. If he wastes time trying to go for submissions, it is most likely that Velasquez will utilize ground and pound technique to crush Dos Santos. Cain has an excellent base and is very difficult to sweep or submit. And Dos Santos does not have good enough BJJ to submit Cain. In order to win, Dos Santos must get back quickly to his feet and make it a slugging war. At a very minimum, he must stall on the ground and keep Velasquez in his closed guard (with good head and arm control) to buy time for a stand up by the referee.

• Stamina
Velasquez is renowned for having a level of cardio which is virtually unheard of in the heavyweight division. So Dos Santos will need to pace himself carefully in order to preserve energy for the latter rounds. Even if he hurts Velazquez with punches early on, Dos Santos needs to be patient and resist the temptation to launch an onslaught.

While both fighters are world-class warriors, the edge goes to Cain Velasquez. Dos Santos' has a puncher's chance of a big KO. However, Velasquez has many ways to win this fight and more weapons in his arsenal. If this fight goes into the championship rounds, then Velasquez will win easily.

OFFICIAL PREDICTION: Velasquez by 3rd round KO

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