Memory of first UFC championship loss haunts Cain Velasquez's current run


  • Share on Tumblr
  • submit to reddit

cain-velasquez-26.jpgConsidering what we already know about how hard it is to hold onto the UFC heavyweight title for any length of time, it’s a little insane that Cain Velasquez once thought he could defend it with a bum knee.

That was the first time he fought Junior dos Santos, back when the UFC made its debut on the FOX network in November of 2011 and the heavyweight title fight was the one and only attraction on the broadcast.

Before the fight, there were rumors. Rumors about training injuries. Rumors that, if the UFC didn’t have so much riding on this one fight, Velasquez would have pulled out. Rumors that the Velasquez camp quietly denied, and kept denying or at least declining to discuss in detail even after their fighter suffered a 64-second knockout loss.

“We knew,” fellow heavyweight and AKA training partner Daniel Cormier told MMAjunkie.com (mmajunkie.com). “Everybody knew he was hurt. But he’s just not the guy who’s going to say he can’t fight. It was the first FOX fight and it was a huge deal for the UFC. If you know Cain, he’s all about representing that company. He was going to go out there and give it his all, just do what he could. But he was kind of forced into a situation where he had to stand with a guy you really don’t want to stand with.”

After the fight, we learned that dos Santos had a knee injury of his own, one that might have forced him out of any other bout, but not that one. Of course, due to the difference in their styles it probably didn’t affect his game plan nearly as much as it affected Velasquez’s, and anyway he won. When you win those fights the lesson you take away tends to be one about persevering, pushing through adversity, all that stuff. When you lose it’s different.

Maybe that’s why, now that he’s reclaimed the UFC heavyweight title, Velasquez’s takeaway from his first experience with the belt is pretty specific.

“With the injuries I had, trying to defend it the first time, and knowing that when I have a game plan I have to go execute it right away and not wait around, all that stuff is something I can bring in to my next fight,” Velasquez said.

Or, as head trainer Javier Mendez put it, “The difference this time around is, I don’t think he’s going to put himself in jeopardy ever again. He’s not going to fight unless he’s 100 percent healthy and ready to go.”

Maybe it’s a bit of revisionist history to place that much blame for the loss on the injury. You could argue that a bad knee might have kept him from being as mobile or aggressive as usual, but it was still a JDS punch to the head – not the knee – that put him face-down on the canvas in Anaheim, Calif., that night.

Still, you look at their rematch, when Velasquez was healthy, and you can’t help but wonder if there’s some truth to it. If he really did push himself into a fight he never should have taken, all so the UFC didn’t lose the fight it had been hyping for weeks on FOX, how does that change our perspective on Velasquez’s place among UFC heavyweights? How does it change our notion of the volatility of the weight class in general?

If you buy the explanation that the injury beat Velasquez as much as dos Santos did, then it’s easier to imagine an alternate universe where Velasquez is still undefeated, where he never lost the UFC heavyweight title, where our concept of the UFC heavyweight strap as the toughest belt to maintain ownership of is being slowly eradicated by each new Velasquez win.

It’s just that, back here in the universe we actually live in, it’s not that way at all. Because of that one loss, we still think of UFC heavyweight champion as a temp job, just like we still think of Velasquez as the guy who’s 1-1 against dos Santos and still in need of a rubber match. And one thing we know about MMA fans is that they don’t want to hear a word about your injuries after you lose a fight, so they definitely don’t want to sit around pondering what might have been if only you’d stayed home that night.

That doesn’t mean Velasquez and his team don’t think about it, though. MMA fighters show up to work injured all the time. We know this. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good idea, especially if you’ve got a belt to defend and a knockout artist to deal with.

Velasquez says he’s learned that lesson the hard way, and won’t make the same mistake twice. Whether that’s the missing piece that finally results in a UFC heavyweight championship run that’s more like a dynasty than a summer rental, we’ve have to wait and see.

For the latest on UFC 160, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

view original article >>

Related News

  • 7 days ago
  • 290 views

New Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight No. 1 contender Daniel Cormier (because of this) talks about his last sparring session with longtime training partner and UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez (1:20 mark), which threw him for a loop because Velasquez was trying to emulate Jon Jones -- complete with side kick to the knee. "DC" told him to pump the brakes on that (for now) because they're still nine weeks out from UFC 178, where Cormier will attempt to break "Bones" for read news >>

  • 20 days ago
  • 48 views

Fabricio Werdum will finally fight for the UFC title on Nov. 15, when he battles reigning champion Cain Velasquez at UFC 180 in Mexico City, and his head coach Rafael Cordeiro is confident that the jiu-jitsu specialist has what it takes to beat Velasquez standing or on the ground. "It’s going to be so cool," Cordeiro told MMAFighting.com. "Fabricio has been training for this moment for years. Ever since he moved to the United States seven years ago, he developed a great stand-up game. He has a h read news >>

  • 20 days ago
  • 69 views

Critics also said Wedrum had no chance prior to the Fedor Emelianenko fight and welp, we all saw how that turned out. "Werdum has what it takes to submit or knock Cain Vealsquez out. I don't agree when people say Werdum shocked the world against Fedor. There's no such thing in MMA. It's a fight and both fighters are ready. I won't be shocked when Werdum defeats Velasquez. I already expect that. We didn't want the Travis Browne fight, but Dana said he had to fight again before the title fight. We read news >>

  • 18 days ago
  • 31 views

Fabricio Werdum will find himself in a familiar position at UFC 180 in November. He'll be facing another opponent who seemingly has no weakness and will be the underdog to UFC champion Cain Velasquez, but the Brazilian knows what it takes to shock the world. Werdum shocked the MMA world in 2010 as he defeated the greatest heavyweight—and some believe greatest MMA fighter overall—Fedor Emelianenko by submission in the first round. Werdum's coach, Rafael Cordeiro, speaking to MMAFighting.com, beli read news >>

  • 29 days ago
  • 89 views

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is already back with its second "Embedded" video for UFC 175, featuring behind-the-scenes footage ahead of this weekend's (Sat., July 5, 2014) "Weidman vs. Machida" pay-per-view (PPV) event at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Watch Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey workout in her hotel room (is normal) and reveal her grueling "Routine of Domination" to become UFC's first-ever women's champion before switching over to the home of her opponent, read news >>

  • 29 days ago
  • 53 views

UFC 175 hits Las Vegas on Saturday with two championship fights. UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman defends his title for the second time in his career, and it will be Lyoto Machida challenging him in the main event. In the co-main event, Ronda Rousey defends her bantamweight crown against jiu-jitsu ace Alexis Davis. Who should you put a little money on? This article is here to help you make a more informed decision by laying out the pre-fight odds for you. It will help you identify the val read news >>

  • 29 days ago
  • 32 views

Redemption! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is looking to shake up the light heavyweight rankings with a potential 205-pound showdown later this fall, pitting former division number one contender Glover Teixeira (No. 4) against hot-and-cold wrestling standout Phil Davis (No. 6). That's according to a report from UFC Tonight; however, nothing is official at this time. Teixeira (22-3) is fresh off a five-round shellacking at the hands of division kingpin Jon Jones. Prior to his UFC 172 main e read news >>

  • 29 days ago
  • 38 views

It’s no secret that UFC 175 is the biggest event the Ultimate Fighting Championship has put together so far in 2014. The promotion has gone all-in by placing two title fights on one card, as Chris Weidman and Ronda Rousey will defend their belts. UFC is also in a fight of its own. Not against another promotion but rather dwindling pay-per-view figures that have continued into 2014. UFC 175 will be an interesting test of the current strength of the promotion as a whole. One of the big storylines read news >>

  • 29 days ago
  • 31 views

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sun., July 6, 2014) with The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 19 Finale from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Get complete, official "Edgar vs. Penn 3" event results, live updates and real-time coverage right here on fight night! July fourth may have come and gone, but we still have fireworks in "Sin City." Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) hits the FOX Sports 1 airwaves this Sunday night (July 6, 2014) with The read news >>