TEMPE, Ariz. — Perhaps in his first fight with Junior Dos Santos, Cain Velasquez sat back on his heels, fighting to avoid losing rather than fighting to win. Or perhaps he just misjudged his opponent, who gave Velasquez his only career UFC loss and took away the Heavyweight Championship.
Whichever it was, Velasquez has the benefit of hindsight as he prepares for his rematch with Dos Santos for the championship Dec. 29 in Las Vegas.
“The game plan I have, I have to go in and execute it right away,” Velasquez said Tuesday. “I can’t wait around. Just go in, go forward, lot of action — just take the fight to him. That’s something I didn’t do the first fight.”
Velasquez was back on the Arizona State campus Tuesday to meet with current wrestlers in the program for which he wrestled three years, earning All-American honors. All the talk, though, was about his upcoming shot at reclaiming the heavyweight crown, lost last November at UFC on FOX 1.
Velasquez admitted Tuesday he may have fought from a defensive standpoint, rather than attacking.
“I just stood back for too long when I shouldn’t have against someone that has that good of boxing,” Velasquez said. “My style of fighting is a lot of action, the pace is really high. That’s what I have to do this fight.”
The fight offers Velasquez the chance to avenge his previous loss, the only one on his professional mixed martial arts record (10-1). Velasquez was not shy about admitting he’s motivated by that.
“All I’m thinking about is payback,” Velasquez said. “Just avenging that loss and getting that belt back. Everyone who fights in this sport wants to be the best guy. We want to be that No. 1 guy that has that belt. That’s what we’re all training for.”
The rematch should give both fighters the chance to face each other at full strength. Last time around, Velasquez was dealing with a rotator cuff injury, while Dos Santos was battling a knee injury.
Velasquez said he’s finishing the eighth week of his training regimen and will continue adding to it in the next two months. He found the time to meet with current Sun Devils Tuesday morning, something he also did after first winning the heavyweight championship.
“It’s nice to see how things are progressing over here,” Velasquez said. “Just seeing what new guys we have, how the team’s going to be. My best friend Brian Stith is an assistant coach here. I always keep in touch with him to see how things are going.”
Velasquez said his message to the wrestlers was just to set a goal in life, be it in wrestling or otherwise, and go after it with all the passion they have.