Cain Velasquez wants to remain at the top of UFC for some time
Cain Velasquez is going to give this idea of successfully defending a title another crack.
In December, he regained his throne as Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champion.
On Saturday night, Velasquez (11-1) will enter the UFC octagon at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas to defend his title against Brazilian Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva (18-4).
The champion is striving to hold the belt longer than he did last time.
Velasquez, first won the heavyweight title by stopping Brock Lesnar in 2010. And in 2011, in his first heavyweight title defense, Velasquez was knocked out in 64 seconds by Junior Dos Santos.
He began his road back a year ago by demolishing Silva with a first-round technical knockout in 3:36. The former Arizona State wrestler, who resides in San Jose, battered Silva, taking the him to the canvas and subjecting him to a slew of punches and elbows to the head that left Silva a bloody mess at stoppage.
Velasquez then atoned for his loss to Dos Santos in their rematch Dec. 29. Velasquez pounded and staggered the then-champion in the early rounds with punches, cruising to a victory by unanimous decision to reclaim his belt.
That same night, Silva earned his opportunity to take the title from Velasquez. Silva impressively rallied after losing the first two rounds by throwing a flurry of unanswered punches at contender Alistair Overeem in the third and final round, stopping Overeem by technical knockout.
The idea of a Velasquez-Silva rematch for the belt seemed unappealing at first. UFC President Dana White did not immediately endorse a bout that had “tough sell” written all over it.
But as White reflected, he considered Silva’s thunderous punches against Overeem, his first-round TKO of Travis Browne in October of 2012, and his 2011 triumph over mixed martial arts legend Fedor Emelianenko.
“You can’t deny how vicious [Silva] was against Overeem,” White said. “What he did against Travis Browne and Fedor, he deserves another shot.”
Velasquez, 30, expects a tough fight from Silva, 33.
“Guys have overlooked him, and it’s been a big mistake,” Velasquez said. “The last two guys got knocked out doing that. I believe his overall strategy will change for this fight. I think it’ll be a five-round war.
“There’s a hunger in me that comes from me wanting to stay in this position as champion.”
Silva, lifted by the Overeem victory, believes he deserves a second chance at Velasquez.
“I like when people underestimate me, it’s nice,” Silva said. “I get to go out there and I get to show them they’re wrong. There are no superheroes in this sport. Nobody is invincible. And I’ve been putting in a lot of hard work for the last nine weeks. I have been preparing myself and I’m very confident that I’m going to have my arm raised on May 25.”
Silva believes Velasquez’s chin can be suspect, as evidenced by his loss to Dos Santos.
“In our first fight, I was nervous and anxious,” Silva said about Velasquez. "[Now] I’m calm and I’m driven … I’ve got 30 pounds on him. He’s going to be faster than me. So I need to work with what I have, and what I have is very, very heavy hands. So, I’m going to need to keep my hands healthy and heavy to go in there and I’m sure that the first punch that I really land he’s going to go down.”
Velasquez said he’s eager to confront that threat, and to start a title reign that expands the sport’s audience into the Latino market. White has spoken of holding a future Velasquez fight in Mexico.
“A classical boxing fan can get turned on to this sport,” Velasquez said. “You don’t even need to know the rules, just sit down and watch a good fight. This sport crosses those boundaries.”
Dos Santos returns to action on Saturday’s card against hard-hitting Mark Hunt of New Zealand. White said a Dos Santos win would give him a title shot later this year.
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