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UFC on FOX Musings

The historic UFC on FOX event is in the books...Michael DiSanto breaks it down...
Junior dos Santos vs. Cain VelasquezCIGANO REACHES THE PINNACLE; WILL HE BE THE ONE TO REVERSE THE TREND?

Junior dos Santos is the 13th man to hold the UFC Heavyweight Championship, if we exclude interim champions. The others didn’t have much luck hanging on to it. Will he be different?

The current record for most successful heavyweight title defenses is three. Two men accomplished that feat: Randy Couture and Tim Sylvia. Brock Lesnar and Andrei Arlovski both defended the title successfully on two occasions, while the rest lost it in their first or second defense, including Cain Velasquez. That is the absurd reality of the heavyweight division.

It is absurd because no other sport has such parity. The concept of dominance is a pipe dream because there are so many different variables that affect each bout. And all it takes is one small mistake to bring the fight to an instant end.

Sooner or later, though, someone will come along and dominate the heavyweight division. Maybe he won’t last quite as long as Anderson Silva’s current annihilation of the middleweight division or Georges St-Pierre’s iron-fisted rule over the land of the welterweights. But it is going to happen at some point. The question, of course, is whether Junior is the man to do just that.

It is impossible to predict. History suggests that Junior will likely drop the title to the winner of the upcoming title eliminator between Lesnar and Alistair Overeem. If not then, then certainly in his second defense, if we are going by statistics.

In looking objectively at dos Santos, he actually seems to posses the goods to put together a decent run. He has exceptional takedown defense and arguably the best boxing in the division. Sound familiar?  Wait for it.  Just a little longer.  Can you say Chuck Liddell?

Liddell’s skill set was remarkably similar to what dos Santos brings into the Octagon. He was a standup-first fighter, whose greatest weapon was his right hand. Sure, he had a pretty good left hook, too. But nobody really laid awake at night worrying about that shot. They certainly lost sleep over his right hand.

Liddell’s takedown defense was legendary. Nobody, other than Randy Couture and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson had much success taking down Liddell. Fewer kept him on the ground for any length of time, due to his insane scrambling ability.

Sounds like dos Santos, doesn’t it.  Of course it does. It sounds exactly like him.

Whether he will put together a Liddell-like run, however, remains to be seen.

WE WILL NOW FIND OUT WHAT CAIN IS REALLY MADE OF

The world finds out exactly what a fighter is made of when he loses his first professional fight. In a sport where parity is the name of the game, most fighters learn whether they have the chops to bounce back from a loss long before they sign with the UFC. Others figure it out during the early part of their UFC career.  

Cain Velasquez will now face that very question for the very first time, despite the fact that he has been competing against the best in the world for years. Will the knockout make him question his chin? Was he fully recovered from the shoulder surgery? Did cage rust play a role?

Maybe he just got caught with a great shot. Only Velasquez knows the answers to those questions. Honestly, though, the answer is almost irrelevant. The highly respected former champion should not waste time trying to figure out why he lost. He should spend time making sure that there are no lingering mental issues (such as a lack of confidence) from the loss. That means jumping right back on the horse, so that he can rid his mind of the bitter taste of defeat.

For the record, I thought his game plan was excellent. Leg kicks were his biggest key to victory, in my opinion. Coming out and quickly shooting for a takedown wasn’t going to be successful, because that is exactly what dos Santos expected. Cain was doing just fine, until he got caught, and that, my friends, is the reality of making a living in the UFC heavyweight division.

HENDERSON SECURES WELL-DESERVED TITLE SHOT

Benson Henderson has long wanted to prove to the world that he is, indeed, one of the very best lightweights in the world. He paid his dues in mid-major shows for the first few years of his career, just like most fighters. Then he toiled in the shadow of the UFC as the lightweight champion in the WEC.

After handing Clay Guida a whuppin’ on the undercard of Velasquez-dos Santos, Henderson proved that he is, without any question, one of the best lightweights in the world. In his next fight, he will find out if he is THE best.

Yep, you read that correctly. Henderson’s next fight will occur in early 2012 when he steps into the cage to face UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. We will breakdown the fight six ways from Sunday before it happens, but the short version is I like the matchup for Henderson. In fact, I like it a lot.

PARTING COMMENTS ON THE UFC’S BROADCAST TELEVISION DEBUT

I’m sure there are lots of haters out there who are complaining about how the UFC’s debut went down. A fight that was built up as a crazy slugfest turned out to be a Mike Tyson-esque knockout in a mere 64 seconds. Sure, a distance war, a la Forrest Griffin versus Stephan Bonnar, would have been better. A two round war ending with a dramatic knockout would have been better. But a 64-second, one-punch (for all intents and purposes) knockout was just fine.

I thought the production was excellent—and I’m not just writing that because I happen to pen articles for UFC.com. I thought Fox did a spectacular job of blending the UFC with the NFL, MLB, Daytona 500, and other elite sporting events. I felt like I was watching championship boxing matches on Wide World of Sports three decades ago.

Wow. I’m old. Talk about dating myself. I digress.

The UFC absolutely seemed at home on Fox. It was a natural broadcast. Joe Rogan was exceptional, as always. UFC President Dana White and former heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar were great during the pre-fight. And the vignettes, while a bit basic for hardcore fans, were perfect for first-time viewers.

Saturday night was the start of something great. Really great. I fully expect the UFC to become water cooler conversation at major corporations around the world in 2012. Major UFC broadcasts, both on Fox and pay per view, will generate Floyd Mayweather-like talk or NFL playoff-like talk. Yes, I wrote that.  It’s going to happen, and I cannot wait.

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