Junior dos Santos won their first bout but Cain Velasquez delivered a beatdown Saturday to win the second. Will they fight a third time?
By A.J. PerezFoxSports
Cain Velasquez was about as active as a heavyweight could be, at least before he tired some late in his thrashing of Junior dos Santos at UFC 155 on Saturday night.
He should have some time to rest.
“We’ll see,” Velasquez said when asked what’s next after he reclaimed the belt in a unanimous (50-45, 50-43, 50-44) victory at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
There are several factors that will determine when, where and against whom Velasquez will begin his title defense — or if he'll face dos Santos again. Chief among them is the health of dos Santos, who took a beating for 25 minutes that left his face swollen and resulted in a trip to an area hospital.
Dos Santos was treated and released without any major injuries, although UFC president Dana White said dos Santos will need some downtime.
“I think it will be a while before he’s able to fight again,” White said. “This isn’t like losing a regular fight. He was beat up pretty bad.”
The pounding came at the hands of a healthy Velasquez, who lost the belt to dos Santos at UFC on FOX 1 in November 2011 in 64 seconds. Velasquez was not nearly 100 percent at the time as he dropped his first professional fight, but not for the reasons purported by a filmmaker who recently released a YouTube video of the injury.
The video claimed Velasquez suffered a torn ACL, an injury that typically requires surgery and several months of rehab. American Kickboxing Academy founder Javier Mendez, Velasquez’s trainer, told FOXSports.com the video painted an inaccurate portrayal of the injury.
“It didn’t require surgery, but it required a lot of rehab,” Mendez said. “It was pretty bad. He couldn’t do any wrestling for over a month. That video released said two weeks. It wasn’t two weeks. For more than four weeks, all he could do was box. He had no lateral movement.
“Come fight time when we fought dos Santos (last year), I had him kick with his left leg and it was 50 percent power and, after the third (kick), he asked if we could stop. If Cain Velasquez asks you to stop, I said, ‘Oh, my God.’ ”
In the rematch, Velasquez did what many expected him to in the first fight: use his superior wrestling skills. It’s the sort of display that one of his potential challengers — AKA teammate and Strikeforce Grand Prix champ Daniel Cormier — grasps well.
“Knowing the love Cain has for Daniel and the love for Daniel has for Cain, as a coach and fellow training partner, I seriously doubt that fight will happen,” Mendez said. “Daniel thinks he can make 205 (pounds). I am pretty confident Daniel can find a great dietician and make the weight cut for a fight against (light heavyweight champ) Jon Jones.”
Minus Cormier or a quick rematch with dos Santos, White said Velasquez’s next fight would hinge on the UFC 156 undercard bout between Alistair Overeem and Antonio Silva in February.
Overeem recently reapplied for his Nevada State Athletic Commission license. Overeem was suspended after he tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone before a scheduled fight in May against dos Santos.
“Probably the winner of that fight will fight Cain next,” White said. “After that fight happens, the fight that makes the most sense would be a rematch with dos Santos.”
Where Velasquez and dos Santos would meet is almost as intriguing as when that will occur. High on that list would be Mexico, White said.
It’s a market that UFC has not fully cracked. A card with Velasquez and ascending bantamweight Erik Perez — who beat Byron Bloodworth with a first-round TKO on Saturday — could be a major draw south of the border.
“It’s definitely one of my dreams to go there and fight,” Velasquez said. “For me, (growing up) close to the border, we’d go to Mexico all the time to eat, visit family and everything else. It’s very close to my heart.”
Velasquez-dos Santos III also could warrant the UFC’s first stadium show, White told reporters. The idea of holding a mega-event at Cowboys Stadium was floated as an option several months ago.
“It’s a big one,” White said. “You could do that one in the United States, Mexico, Brazil. That fight is big anywhere.”
And while White didn’t pinpoint a rubber match specifically, he also added that a goal of his in 2013 is finally to win approval from New York officials to allow MMA fighting in the state, possibly for a November event at Madison Square Garden to coincide with UFC’s 20th anniversary.
“For 2013, we have got some exciting fights in (the heavyweight) division,” White said. “We’ll see how this plays out. There are a lot of good options and a lot of big, fun fights in this division.”