The baddest man on the planet.
It’s the title bestowed upon the best of the biggest in combat sports. While it does not have a physical belt to go along with the title, it is recognized amongst the fighting community as a prestigious accomplishment only granted to a handful of men deemed worthy to carry the title. Men like Mike Tyson, Fedor Emelianenko and Brock Lesnar have all been christened with such an honor, but that was in the past. The new baddest man on the planet is none other than Power MMA Show regular and former ASU wrestling All-American Cain Velasquez, who just so happens to be the UFC Heavyweight Champion.
After rocketing up the UFC heavyweight rankings, Velasquez claimed his position as the world’s best heavyweight after decimating the monster that was Brock Lesnar. But an injury kept the champion on the sidelines for more than a year. Upon his return he saw his title and his belt taken away from him in a mere 64 seconds into his first title defense against the Brazilian striker Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos. Seven months later, he beat Strikeforce import Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva into a bloody mess en route to a first round TKO, earning a rematch against Dos Santos.
The second time around was a far cry from their first encounter as Velasquez threw Dos Santos around- imposing his will en route to a perfect performance and what this writer has labeled the first triple-double in UFC history- as Velasquez landed 111 significant strikes to go along with 11 successful takedowns. With his belt back around his waist, Velasquez was once again the baddest man on the planet.
Flash back to summer 2012, and ‘Bigfoot’ Silva was making his UFC debut after a successful run in Strikeforce highlighted by a demolishing of the legendary Emelianenko. In his first UFC bout Bigfoot was left a bloody mess on the canvas as Velasquez delivered elbow after elbow to the Brazilian fighter. Embarrassed on national television, Bigfoot vowed he would return with a vengeance, and boy did he deliver. With a thunderous knockout win over up and coming heavyweight Travis Browne and an incredible come from behind beating of heavily favored and monstrous Alistair Overeem, the American Top Team product not only earned his title shot but also his rematch against the man who had decimated him almost a year ago.
This Saturday the two will square off in the rematch to determine once again who the baddest man on the planet really is.
These two men have incredibly different striking styles. Velasquez fights like a welterweight with the best cardio in the division and a nonstop motor that is constantly pressing the attack with lightning-quick hands and takedowns. Bigfoot tends to be a one-trick pony. He has some of the biggest fists in the entire organization and some thunderous power behind them. Just ask Overeem how a heavy combination from the Brazilian feels. The problem is, he’s always looking for the knockout blow instead of landing quick and precise strikes. The champion has world-class technique to go along with underrated power in his hands. With crisp boxing, solid leg kicks and flashy yet precise head kicks, Velasquez never throws a strike that isn’t doing some sort of damage. Velasquez’s 6.37 significant strikes per minute is the highest rate in the entire organization. I give the edge to Velasquez in this department, as he is far and away the more gifted striker.
If Bigfoot isn’t in the same league as Velasquez in the striking department, he isn’t even on the same planet as the champion when it comes to wrestling. While Bigfoot has proven he can take an opponent down if he needs to, Velasquez proved the Brazilian giant wasn’t ready for his wrestling ability in their last meeting as he took Bigfoot down after catching a leg kick and quickly opened up his opponent’s face with a barrage of elbows. As a former ASU Wrestling All-American, this is the champion’s bread and butter. With explosive takedowns and a dominant ground game, there aren’t many fighters outside of AKA teammate Daniel Cormier who can compete with the champ on the mat. This one is a no brainer — advantage Velasquez.
This is where it get’s interesting, as fight fans have yet to see the champion work of his back in the UFC. He’s been so dominant with his striking and wrestling, fans and writers have very little to base their judgment off of when it comes to Velasquez’s jiu-jitsu and grappling game. He had several opportunities to finish Dos Santos in his last bout by submission but for some reason he chose not to take them. Bigfoot, on the other hand, has proven he’s an elite level submission artist. He holds a black belt in jiu-jitsu under the legendary Nogueira brothers and has three submission victories under his belt. As for his grappling abilities, he has shown he belongs with the best, as he thoroughly manhandled Emelianenko when the two men locked horns back in Strikeforce. It doesn’t hurt that the massive Brazilian is pushing close to 300-pounds at fight time. I give the edge to Bigfoot in this category because I haven’t seen much from the champion at this point in his career. He could be the best submission artist to ever step foot into the octagon, but we just haven’t seen that side of him.
While Bigfoot has certainly earned his shot at Velasquez’s title, I really don’t see him having much of a chance come fight-time. The champion is simply too much for the Brazilian in almost every facet of the game and their first encounter already proved that. While I won’t make the same mistake of writing off Bigfoot before the cage closes, like I did in his last fight against Overeem, I see Velasquez defending his belt in another stellar performance
Velasquez via round 1 TKO