Junior dos Santos feels he still has something to prove against Cain Velasquez (Yahoo! Sports)


LAS VEGAS – The sheer force of Junior dos Santos' right hand pounding into the focus mitt held his coach – and the resulting booming sound it made – sent precisely the message the UFC wanted prior to his bout with Cain Velasquez on Nov. 12, 2011, at UFC on Fox 1.

To anyone who saw or heard those thudding pops, there was no doubt about what dos Santos was capable of doing: He was perhaps mixed martial arts' best knockout artist and that little sequence at an open workout in Anaheim, Calif., served as a reminder of how serious a threat to Velasquez's heavyweight belt he could be.

What wasn't so well known was that dos Santos did little more than throw punches at the workout simply because he wasn't physically able to do anything else.

Much has been made of the knee injury that Velasquez suffered before he made his title defense against dos Santos on national television, as if dos Santos' victory should simply be tossed aside.

A reporter asked Velasquez at Thursday's final news conference for UFC 155 about regaining the title. When he used the phrase "your belt," dos Santos sneered before interrupting.

"It's my belt," he said, firmly.

[Also: Dana White's refreshingly honest take on drug use in UFC]

What's been lost in the talk of the Velasquez injury is that dos Santos fought – and won – with a serious knee injury of his own. Two weeks before the bout, he was on crutches. And two days before, he wasn't comfortable going through the light media-designed workout the UFC had scheduled for him.

He was in pain and didn't want to injure his knee any further. He wasn't about to drop to the floor and risk putting his knee at additional risk.

"It was pretty bad," dos Santos said of his own injury.

To dos Santos and those closest to him, his 64-second knockout victory over Velasquez proved he's the best heavyweight in the world. But to many, the lingering message of UFC on Fox 1 was simply that an injured dos Santos was better than an injured Velasquez.

So, dos Santos heads into the main event of UFC 155 Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden to defend the championship for a second time feeling like he has a lot to prove. His history would suggest that's not a good thing for his opponents.

UFC president Dana White came to the rescue of his champion Thursday when the talk about Velasquez's injury began to discredit dos Santos' victory. White could hardly believe when someone questioned whether the first fight should be thrown out when regarding what might happen Saturday in the rematch.

"You don't throw the first fight out," White said incredulously. "I mean, [dos Santos] won by knockout. It would be pretty weird to throw that first fight out. But there's no doubt you're going to see a different Cain Velasquez this fight."

That's what makes the fight so compelling. Many were let down by the quick ending to the first fight. The bout was the main event of the UFC's first foray onto network television and there was a 40-minute buildup for a fight that barely lasted 40 seconds.

Many of the most ardent MMA fans were crushed. They'd been hoping for an epic back-and-forth match that would convince them of their sport's greatness.

[Also: Cain Velasquez seeking redemption]

What they failed to realize, though, is that the reason casual fans love to watch heavyweights is because the big men bring the big knockouts.

Dos Santos delivered a powerful knockout, yet somehow hasn't been embraced as a result.

He's the antithesis of a trash talker, a nice, soft-spoken guy who learned to speak English by listening to Katy Perry songs and watching American television.

He's added bulk to his physique, but insists he's retained his quickness. That would allow him to better defend against Velasquez's take-down attempts while allowing him to still throw with frightening power.

Velasquez may take him down, dos Santos conceded, and may even take him down repeatedly. But dos Santos knows the one thing that every knockout puncher knows: He won't have to land more than one shot in order to win.

[Related: UFC 155 picks | Five questions that will be answered]

That's the intrigue in this fight: Velasquez may be better than he was in their first meeting. He may even be far better than he was in November 2011.

He might dominate the majority of the fight Saturday. But one right hand is all that dos Santos needs.

Dos Santos knows it. White knows it. And most of all, Velasquez knows it.

In a combat sport, that one-punch power is always the biggest difference maker. Dos Santos recently earned his jiu-jitsu black belt and refers to himself not as a striker but as "a total mixed martial artist."

But it's his knockout power that has the potential to not only end the night early a second time but to finally – finally – give dos Santos the credit he deserves.

Related MMA video from Yahoo! Sports

Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
The story behind Adrian Peterson's success
Avery Johnson got fired, but Deron Williams is sinking the Nets
Duke's 51-year bowl drought continues in stunning fashion
Y! Movies: Spike Lee boycotting Quentin Tarantino's 'Django Unchained'

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

  • 25 days ago
  • 57 views

It’s hard to believe a fighter like Junior dos Santos, a former UFC champion with a record of 16-3, may be a man with no place to go, but that’s the situation before him now. Granted, the UFC will no read news >>

  • 6 days ago
  • 34 views

BRASILIA, Brazil – Former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos is nearing one year on the sidelines, and he’s not happy about it. But with a hand that’s nearly healed, the Brazilian is hoping f read news >>

  • 6 days ago
  • 1414 views

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos is bailing on a potential Alistair Overeem fight, because "Demolition Man" keeps getting knocked out in a "hard" 265 read news >>

  • a day ago
  • 1 views

After a prolonged recovery from a hand injury suffered in training, it looks like JDS may have his return fight. This has been a bad year for premiere UFC talent. Junior Dos Santos, Cain Velasquez, A read news >>

  • a day ago
  • 4 views

It's been nearly a year since the UFC's former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos fought, but it looks like there could be a time and place for his return. As reported on UFC Tonight, a fight bet read news >>

  • 12 hours ago
  • 1 views

Former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos recently told MMAjunkie he was hoping for a December return. It looks like he may get his wish.Filed under: MMA Rumors, News, UFC read news >>

  • 9 hours ago
  • 1 views

But "Cigano" has a special request... Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight titleholder Junior dos Santos looks close to making his Octagon return, according to a report from UFC To read news >>

  • 24 days ago
  • 40 views

Lightweights Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez might not be friends after coaching on “The Ultimate Fighter,” but Fabricio Werdum and Cain Velasquez sound pretty cozy after “The Ultimate Fighter: L read news >>

  • 23 days ago
  • 15 views

At the UFC 180 press conference, UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum will discuss their upcoming clash Tuesday afternoon. The two fighters will square off on Nov. 15 in Mexico read news >>