Velasquez: Can’t wait for UFC 146

It’s been a long time coming, but UFC 146 is nearly upon us.

The wait for me has been even longer and more frustrating than usual, of course, as it’s been more than six months since I last set foot inside the UFC’s Octagon. By the time they lock that Octagon door and allow me to start punching my opponent, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, I’ll be ready to go, eager to erase the memory of my last fight and put on a great show for the fans.

It’s time to right some wrongs.

This week has been my last week of hard training, and all the really hard stuff is pretty much done. I’ll blast out the final few sessions and then use fight week to taper down and relax. Fight week consists of a lot of relaxing, keeping the body in shape — but not overdoing it — and plenty of media-related stuff.

When I’m fortunate to get some downtime, I usually spend those hours with my wife and baby girl and try to get back to normal for a little while. It’s not always easy, though. Training for a fight can be all-consuming and you really have to go to a special place in order to get your body and mind ready for a fight. It’s weird to then break out of that and try to live like a normal person for a day or two. In terms of hobbies, if I’m not fighting or training, I’ll be driving cars, watching cars, reading about cars or talking about cars.

While this particular training camp has been a big success, it hasn’t exactly been straightforward.

As you will probably be aware, my UFC 146 opponent switched midway through camp, and I went from facing Frank Mir to Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva in a matter of days. Still, as soon as we got word that Alistair Overeem was out of the main event fight with Junior Dos Santos, we pretty much knew Mir was going to be the guy to step in, so the shock on our part was minimal.

Nothing had been said to us at the time, but it seemed to make the most sense. There were a few whispers about Mark Hunt being the guy to step in, but I could never really see anything beyond Frank. He seemed the best-qualified guy for the job, and so it proved. Mir is on a three-fight win streak, he’s experienced, a two-time champ, well known and has headlined pay-per-view shows. He was the best fit for that main event, no doubt. I never thought I was going to be called into an immediate rematch with Dos Santos.

Obviously, with Frank filling that void, I was left scrapping around for a new opponent. That’s when "Bigfoot" Silva entered the equation. He became my new opponent and I was forced to adjust and make a few subtle changes. Nothing major, though. Both guys, Mir and Silva, are dangerous fighters with many ways to win a fight. They can both do a bit of everything and can cause you problems if you aren’t on your game. I always prepare as though I’m fighting the very best guy in the world, so it doesn’t matter to me if my opponent gets switched around. I’m ready for everybody in the heavyweight division.

Though I’ve gone from Mir to Silva, I really don’t see any kind of drop down in challenge or threat. Silva is every bit as dangerous as Mir would have been, albeit in different ways. Mir is obviously well known for his submission game, whereas Silva is the sort of guy who is solid everywhere. He isn’t great at any one thing, but is good at everything. He can cause problems in the stand-up and also can put guys in trouble on the ground. You can’t take him lightly no matter where the fight may go.

If anything, Mir might be the guy who has had to make the biggest adjustments. After all, Dos Santos and I are two completely different fighters, and it will be interesting to see how Frank has adapted come May 26. He undoubtedly has the experience and intelligence to deal with the situation, but while I would have brought punches, kicks and wrestling to the fight, past form tells us Dos Santos will be bringing heavy, heavy punches and aggression. He can punch as well and as hard as anybody out there, and Frank will be wary of this. Also, unlike me, Junior presumably will try to steer clear of going to the ground.

In their fight, Dos Santos has a clear edge if they both stay on their feet and strike, but Mir has a big edge on the ground. The result will depend on who can initiate the action and dictate where the fight ends up. If Mir can drag Dos Santos to the ground, he could be in for a good night. If he is unable to, it could be a long and painful one for him.

Although I believe Mir can beat Dos Santos on the ground, I really struggle to see how he’s going to get him down there to work his magic. “JDS” is a big, strong guy with very good takedown defense and Mir isn’t a guy known for shooting in with big takedowns. It could be difficult for him.

All I do know is this: No matter who wins the main event on May 26, I’ll be watching intently, keen to challenge him at some point in 2012. Once I get Silva out of the way, I only have eyes for that title belt. I need it back in my life.

Former UFC world heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez battles Brazil’s Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva at the first-ever all-heavyweight UFC main card at UFC 146 on May 26, live on pay-per-view.

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