Fireworks are expected this Saturday as UFC Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez battles interim UFC heavyweight title holder Fabricio Werdum in what is literally the biggest match of the year inside the Octagon at UFC 188.
Return of Cain
Cain Velasquez has been the most dominant UFC champion in recent memory. His two one-sided victories over rival and former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos proved that he is a cut above the rest. His triumphs over the likes of Ben Rothwell, Antonio Silva (twice), Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera and Brock Lesnar among others are not an easy feat. Knocking out all four within two rounds makes it very impressive, as well.
Velasquez could very well be on his way to becoming the greatest UFC heavyweight champion of All-time, but he’s got to put in more fights on his resume. The American Kickboxing Academy standout has fought just five times since winning the UFC heavyweight title in 2010, going 4-1 with 3 KOs during that period with his only loss the 2011 knockout to Dos Santos in their first fight. Since coming to the UFC in 2008, Velasquez has fought just 12 times or an average of 1.5 per year because of injuries. So for him to become the best ever, he’s got to stay healthy and be active. That’s got to start on Saturday night.
Fabricio Werdum earned the right to face Velasquez with a five-round unanimous decision win over Travis Browne at UFC on Fox 11 in April of 2014. The following month, Werdum and Cain Velasquez were named as opposing coaches for TUF Latin America with the two scheduled to square off for the UFC heavyweight title at UFC 180. However, Velasquez suffered a knee injury one month before the scheduled fight, forcing the UFC to arrange an interim heavyweight title match between Werdum and Mark Hunt as the main event of UFC 180.
Werdum survived an early knockdown from the hard hitting Samoan and displayed his much improved striking skills to stop Hunt in the 2nd round to win the interim heavyweight title. Werdum has always been known as perhaps the best submission expert in UFC heavyweight history but the emergence of his striking game under the famed Rafael Cordeiro has transformed him into an elite mixed martial artist who is now on top of his game.
So now that Velasquez is healthy again, the UFC rescheduled their colossal confrontation for June 13th, with the winner becoming the undisputed UFC heavyweight champion.
Who Takes this?
The current odds say that Velasquez is a -525 favorite to retain his title against Werdum who is a + 410 underdog right now. While the improvement in Werdum’s overall game has been dramatic and impressive, Cain Velasquez’s cardio is close to being supernatural. Velasquez gives his opponents 20 minutes of hell and punishes them with both a supreme wrestling base and a vicious striking game.
Werdum has the size to match up with Velasquez but definitely the champion has the advantage in the striking department with more diverse attacks. With Cain’s gas tank, he can easily take Werdum to the mat especially in the latter stages of the fight, if it goes that direction. Werdum has an excellent guard and has the better submission skills on the ground. In fact, it’s perhaps on the ground where he has a shot at beating Cain-by submission, and that is if he can put Velasquez flat on his back. That’s easier said than done, especially when you’re talking about someone who has a gas tank that could last ten MMA rounds at least.
Werdum should pose an early challenge to the champion but as this fight goes longer, Cain’s cardio will take over. Experts are picking Cain to win by late stoppage.