UFC 160 is headlined by a rematch between two of the best heavyweight fighters in the world, but this time with a title on the line. Two-time UFC HW champion Cain Velasquez looks to successfully defend his title for the first time since regaining it with his dominating win over rival Junior Dos Santos. He faces Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in a rematch of their first fight at UFC 146, where Velasquez famously chainsawed through Bigfoot and painted a mural of violence on himself with Bigfoot’s blood. That performance earned him a title shot against Dos Santos, whom he also defeated emphatically to regain the championship. Velasquez is seeking to build his legacy now, while Silva looks to avenge that bloody loss and become champion.
Fight Breakdown – The first fight was a pure massacre, plain and simple. Once Cain got Bigfoot down, Bigfoot only got back up so the doctor could staunch the bleeding. Cain went back to work and earned a nasty first round stoppage. That was a statement win for Velasquez, who got KO’d by Junior Dos Santos in under 90 seconds in the previous fight, his first and failed title defense. Cain bounced back in a big way since then and his fight against Bigfoot was the start of that.
Bigfoot Silva is an intimidating guy. He’s 6-4”, well over 250 lbs and has cannonballs for hands. As Alistair Overeem can tell you, getting caught between him and the cage with those hands coming at you is not a happy place to be. But Silva does have a weakness that was on display in that Overeem fight (as well as against Cain): he is susceptible to getting taken down, and kept there. If Silva hasn’t drastically improved in that aspect, he’s going to be in for another beating. Overeem isn’t exactly known for his wrestling prowess and ground and pound finishes. Yet he was able to take Silva down and pound on him. Overeem couldn’t do much from top position, but Cain Velasquez makes a living off of that. You can be sure if Cain gets a similar position, he’ll succeed where Overeem didn’t; the majority of Cain’s fights end with him earning a KO in the first round.
Bigfoot absolutely has to be able to defend the takedown and if he does get taken down, he has to be able to mount a defense or get back to his feet. Cain is likely to have a speed advantage and could look to utilize his underrated boxing to outwork Silva on the feet. But in all likelihood, Cain’s going to try for a take down at some point in this fight, to take it to a place that will nullify Bigfoot’s size advantage. If Silva can’t avoid that and prevent the champ from beating him on the ground, it’s going to look much like a replay of their first fight.
Velasquez is famed for his other-worldly conditioning and pace, but what’s often overlooked is his skill set. He doesn’t just charge after guys wildly for 25 minutes, he doesn’t lay and pray or swing for the fences and hope for a home-run. Cain fights at a high pace, but he lands a lot of accurate and damaging shots in the clinch and on the ground. That makes it very difficult to get into a rhythm against him.
Silva’s best chance of winning this fight is to catch Velasquez with a big shot and daze him, much like JDS did. Silva doesn’t have elite standup, but he’s obviously got KO power and Cain would do well to avoid getting caught in wild exchanges with him. Cain’s also too smart to get caught in submission attempts, so Silva has to look to punish Cain on the feet and even better, take Cain down and get top position on him. Silva famously brutalized Fedor Emelianenko from top position, and that would be the worst case scenario for Velasquez, to be caught under Silva while he rains down those hammer hands.
Silva won his last fight, but some might say it was Overeem’s fight to lose. Overeem made a huge mistake against Silva, he got cocky and drastically underestimated him at the end of that second round and the start of the third. Whether Overeem gassed or got overconfident, no one knows. But make no mistake, Cain Velasquez will do neither of those things. Cain already lost his title from a big KO punch, and he’s not the type of fighter to make the same mistake twice. Cain has the skill set to dictate where this fight goes and if he fights to his game plan and his abilities, he should come out on top. In order for Bigfoot to stand a chance, he has to show pinpoint striking and speed, as well as impenetrable takedown defense.
Why It Matters – Cain Velasquez mauled Brock Lesnar to win the heavyweight championship in under one round. Lesnar was looking almost invincible at the time, beating the likes of Shane Carwin and Frank Mir in impressive fashion. Cain ran through Lesnar like a freight train, and suddenly the UFC had a new HW champion with loads of potential. Then came Junior Dos Santos, who took that all away. Cain had to go back to the drawing board, and he bounced back with a vengeance to first put down Bigfoot Silva on his way to regaining the title in a 25 minute beatdown of JDS. In order for Velasquez to build any type of legacy, he has to defend his title successfully, and this will be his second opportunity to do that. Velasquez has torn through a who’s who of heavyweights on his way to the top, now it’s time to show he can do the same thing as the champion. He’s only got 12 fights in his career and at the age of 30, he still has a lot of potential to leave a lasting imprint in the Octagon. But that all starts by emerging victorious this Saturday night.
Silva on the other hand, has a chance to shock the world. He wasn’t supposed to beat Alistair Overeem, and look what happened in that fight. Silva is doubling down for this fight. He’s got a chance to do two things: avenge his last defeat, which really was a bloodbath where Silva was the only donor, and become the new UFC heavyweight champion. Silva and his camp stated they would have preferred more time before a rematch with Cain, but the way the stars lined up, it had to be now. If Silva loses here, it’ll be a long, long time until he sniffs another title shot as long as Cain remains champion. That puts some extra pressure on him to come out with a W. Silva is a heavy underdog here based on their last fight, and not many are expecting him to win. He could shock the world come Saturday, but if you line up these two guys at their fullest potential, Cain simply looks to be the better fighter.
Prediction – Velasquez