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Cain Velasquez vs Junior Dos Santos 3: What Went Right for the Champ

Oct 19, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Cain Velasquez (red gloves) fights against Junior Dos Santos (blue gloves) in the world heavyweight championship bout during UFC 166 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Spor
Dan HiergesellFeatured ColumnistOctober 20, 2013

Not much can be said about Cain Velasquez that wasn't spilled with blood on Saturday night at UFC 166, as a titanic heavyweight trilogy came to a screeching halt.

The bottom line is that the baddest man on the planet showcased the skills that left Junior dos Santos mangled in their second meeting en route to handing the Brazilian his first TKO loss of his lengthy career.

At times, it seemed as if the scientific training of "Cigano" was paying off, as he successfully defended takedowns and scrambled back to his feet, but the pressure of the champ was too overwhelming.

Like glue on paper, Dos Santos was unable to pry Velasquez off his body without absorbing major damage. Chalk it up to sheer heart, determination and will displayed by the best heavyweight in UFC history.

But what specifically helped fuel Velasquez's decisive finish that proved more monumental than either outcome of the first two installments? Look no further for answers.

 

Striking

What made Velasquez's striking even more fluent and prominent this time around is that he needed it.

Oct 19, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Cain Velasquez (red gloves) fights against Junior Dos Santos (blue gloves) in the world heavyweight championship bout during UFC 166 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Spor

After defending numerous takedown attempts by the champ, Dos Santos showed that he wasn't going to flop to the mat like he did in the last bout. He clearly stepped up his training and displayed the balance, technique and will to keep this title bout standing.

So even though Velasquez wasn't completely sharp and considerably outstanding in this grudge match, his timely execution of combinations, elbows, knees, kicks, body punches and mid-cage head work proved too much for a contender who prides himself on his elite hands.

 

Chin

Unlike the first fight that saw Velasquez get dropped in about a minute, he was able to withstand various shots thrown by JDS throughout all five rounds at UFC 166.

Whether it was against a quick barrage after the open bell or the punishing short elbows that followed, the champion's chin has never looked better.

Sure, Dos Santos was depleted for the majority of the bout, but he's still one of the best strikers in the world and never stopped winging shots.

While it was a victory for Velasquez's pace and pressure in the end, it was also a serious accomplishment for a chin that has failed him in the past.

 

Clinch Work

Velasquez has always been an elite wrestler in the heavyweight division. It has been a huge catalyst for his success in the past and will continue to fuel his dominance heading forward.

Oct 19, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Cain Velasquez (red gloves) fights against Junior Dos Santos (blue gloves) in the world heavyweight championship bout during UFC 166 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Spor

However, in a fight where he couldn't take his opponent down at will, his unrivaled clinch game ultimately sealed his fate.

For nearly five rounds, Velasquez stuck to Dos Santos' hip, punishing him with combinations to the body, pestering knees to the thigh, dirty boxing up top and the always formidable threat of a takedown.

The champ's efforts to stay inside took away from the contender's ability to land crisp strikes and find his range. This frustrated and tired Dos Santos early, making this fight look more and more like the last one.

 

Cardio

For first-time viewers, hearing Joe Rogan say Velasquez outworks welterweights in the gym as the champ walked out to the cage must have been astonishing.

But after just a few minutes into Round 1, it was evident that the UFC color commentator was speaking the truth.

Oct 19, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Cain Velasquez (red gloves) fights against Junior Dos Santos (blue gloves) in the world heavyweight championship bout during UFC 166 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Spor

Now we've seen Velasquez's conditioning reign supreme in the past, especially when he had to take away a striker's bread and butter, but it's so marvelous and unique that talking about it never gets old.

On Saturday night, when the outcome would spell his legacy, Velasquez never looked more promising.  His pace was torrid, and his game plan was tactical. 

What was a five-round war looked like a walk in the park for a man equipped with persistent heart and physical determination.

 

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