In their first meeting, JDS scored a knockout against the proud Mexican warrior in little more than one minute. With both men entering the cage that night sporting injuries, fans and critics have been quick to note that the first fight wasn't truly indicative of each man's true skill.
They weren't just whistlin' Dixie.
Cain Velasquez looked like a completely different fighter in the rematch, as he hurt the champion with a flooring right hand in the first round. It was a shot that dos Santos never truly recovered from, and he struggled for the next four-and-a-half rounds to survive until the final bell.
So what went wrong for Junior?
At first, the strategy for the champion looked to be efficient. Velasquez scored an early takedown, but Junior ragdolled him to the side and quickly regained his feet. Surprisingly enough, that's where the trouble stemmed from.
Too Much Pressure
With Cain hunting for takedowns, dos Santos wanted to strike from a distance and throw interceptor uppercuts when defending takedowns. The only problem is that Velasquez relentlessly pushed forward, which kept Junior constantly backpedaling and unable to implement his game plan.
While circling away, the champion threw a jab in hopes of it earning him some space. Unfortunately, Velasquez continued to push forward and delivered an enormous overhand that put JDS into a world of hurt.
Although his chin was solid enough to survive the strike, he didn't recover quick enough to avoid the barrage of bombs that were dropped on him. The series of shots did incredible damage to the point that the fight could have been stopped at a couple of points.
When the human body takes major damage, you might as well throw your conditioning out the window because your stamina is immediately drained. Had JDS recovered fast enough to avoid the on-canvas flurry, he wouldn't have been so drained in the pivotal middle rounds of the fight.
Opponent Too Hungry
When you are the world champion with a successful title defense under your belt (pun intended), there isn't much room for upward movement. Although I have no doubt that dos Santos came in motivated to win and extend his reign on top, there is no question that Cain Velasquez was driven by a fire unlike anything else we have ever seen.
Think about what Cain had to gain in this fight: He could win a world championship, avenge the only loss of his career and prove that he is the best heavyweight alive in one fell swoop. Those factors played into his training and preparation and led him to a dominant win over a champion who has never lost a round in his UFC career.
There are a lot of things that went wrong for Junior dos Santos, but let's give this warrior his due.
Cigano was able to go a full five rounds against a wrecking machine like Cain Velasquez and not succumb to the massive damage that was thrown in his direction.