The UFC has announced that its Memorial Day weekend card will feature Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva 2 for the heavyweight title as the main event on May 25 in Las Vegas. At the same time it was also announced that Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem will fight that night as well to possibly determine who is next in line for a shot at the heavyweight championship later this year.
Velasquez made quick work of Silva at last year’s Memorial Day weekend card, UFC 146, winning by TKO three and a half minutes into the first round with a vicious assault that started with an elbow that opened up the Brazilian behemoth and left his face a bloody mess. The one-sided way that fight played out and the fact that it is only one year removed has some questioning the matchup. Many will have Silva as a large underdog, but I see it going differently than it did the first time around.
In the first fight, the cut was the real beginning of the end as the amount of blood it produced virtually blinded Silva for the remainder of the fight and made defending Velasquez’s ground assault nearly impossible. You can’t defend what you can’t see coming and what are the chances of Silva being cut that badly again?
Also, you learn valuable lessons whenever you face an opponent, so Silva has some first-hand knowledge on his side this time. Not only did he learn in his brief tilt with Cain, he also got to see him at his relentless best when he took the title from dos Santos this past December. Silva can study every aspect of those two fights to come up with a better approach at UFC 160.
Confidence is a huge factor in performance in any sport and Silva’s was not at its peak going into the first Velasquez fight coming off his loss to Daniel Cormier. Silva will go in to his second shot riding his devastating knockout of Overeem and it will indeed make a difference.
On top of that, when these two fought the first time Velasquez was maniacal in his motivation after the world witnessed him get knocked out by JDS on national television. In my opinion, no one was going to beat Cain in that fight, most certainly not a man coming off a Strikeforce loss.
The stars are aligned for this fight to be much closer the second time around.
The great news for UFC 160 did not stop there as the promotion made the event a heavyweight final four by adding the dos Santos-Overeem contender fight and the timing for this one is perfect as well. These two had already been pegged for a title fight when Junior held the title and some bad blood exists between them.
There may not be as much on the line in now as there once was but both men should be ultra hungry to redeem themselves coming off of their latest sub-par performances. Overeem will surely respect JDS more than he did Silva, and prepare himself accordingly. If he fully dedicates himself to his training and clean preparation, he can indeed beat dos Santos; but that is a big if with the Dutch striker.
Dos Santos will be more motivated than ever to get back to the champion’s chair, and should be extra pumped that he gets to go through Overeem to do it. In the past, Overeem has accused JDS of being afraid to fight him which prompted JDS to respond by asking the UFC to arrange a fight between them.
Contrary to some of the puzzling title shots and fights that the UFC has put together in recent times, they have done right by the fighters and fans by setting these fights up, and now there is a clear and relevant path for the heavyweight division for the remainder of 2013.
Dwight Wakabayashi is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report UFC and regular contributor to Sportsnet.ca’s UFC section. Follow him on Twitter @wakafightermma.