Cain Velasquez Defends Heavyweight Title Against Junior Dos Santos
When the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) announced that it had reached a television deal with FOX Networks this past August, it marked possibly the biggest achievement in mixed martial arts history. Next Saturday, that partnership will officially get the ball rolling when UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez (9-0) puts his title on the line against top contender Junior Dos Santos (13-1).
“This is a throw-back to the old days of boxing,” UFC President Dana White stated. “We are putting a big fight – a huge fight – on free TV to expose this thing to a new audience. Our goal has always been to bring big fights back to network television. We are thinking long-term for the future of this sport. It is an investment in the future of the UFC. Fans that have never seen the UFC before will see this show, and that’s why we decided to put Cain and Junior in this position.
Velasquez became the UFC Heavyweight Champion in October of 2010 when he absolutely dismantled Brock Lesnar in a first round TKO win. A defined wrestler with very heavy hands, Velasquez pounded Lesnar until he curled up to defend the onslaught of punches that his Mexican-American counterpart was unloading onto his head. Unfortunately, the newly crowned champion has been shelved ever since that impressive performance in Anaheim due a torn rotator cuff he suffered during the fight. After undergoing a grueling amount of physical therapy, Velasquez says he is now back to full health and prepared for his first title defense.
“There’s always butterflies when you have a fight,” Velasquez said of the upcoming bout. “It is natural to feel nervous, it means you are ready. But I’m not more nervous because I’ve been out for more than a year. I know from my training camp I’m 100 percent and ready to go. I was 100 percent in July.”
With such a huge stage being set for the UFC in its debut on FOX, Velasquez knows that he holds the responsibility of putting the promotion’s best foot forward, but he said that is far from being his main concern next Saturday.
“I’m excited, and it is a great honor to have this fight chosen by the UFC to be the first one on FOX,” he remarked. “But I am not focused on the event, the hype or the (expected large TV audience). Like any other fight, I am focused on my opponent and not much else.”
On the other side of the Octagon will be the highly dangerous Junior Dos Santos, who has more than earned this opportunity for a crack at the belt. Currently riding an eight-match winning streak, the Brazilian native chose to continue fighting in wake of the injury to Velasquez, knowing that a loss would kill his confirmed shot at the heavyweight championship. He was originally supposed to battle Lesnar after a dominating defeat of veteran Roy Nelson, but a return of diverticulitis struck Lesnar and forced him off a signed pairing. Dos Santos then agreed to face heavy handed Shane Carwin in a replacement match, and he knocked off Carwin in an impressive unanimous decision win.
“It was such a long wait for my title shot, but I am not sorry,” Dos Santos commented. “This, right now, is the greatest opportunity I could have had, fighting for the world heavyweight title live on FOX for the very first time.”
Dos Santos also confirmed that is completely ready for this chance to be a UFC champion, both in mind and body.
“I’m very happy in my life right now,” he stated. “I’m in such a good place mentally and physically. I’m proof that if you work hard, treat people right and don’t doubt yourself, you can achieve your dreams. I genuinely believe that Cain is the greatest heavyweight in the world, and it is an honor to fight him.”
As part of the new agreement with FOX Networks, the UFC will broadcast the weigh-ins next Friday for the first time on live television, beginning at 7:00 p.m. EST on Fuel TV. The following night, the UFC on FOX will hit the airways at 9:00 p.m. EST.