In the primes of their respective careers, they stand on the precipice of an historic moment -- an undefeated champion and his challenger. Five rounds stand between them and the ultimate glory of their profession.
Cain Velasquez checked in at 249 pounds for his heavyweight title defense against Junior dos Santos (239) in the UFC on Fox 1 main event on Saturday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The fight will serve as the centerpiece to the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s debut on network television, carried on Fox at 9 p.m. ET. The 18 other men scheduled to compete at the landmark event also met their mandated weight requirements at Friday’s official weigh-in.
Velasquez last appeared at UFC 121 in October 2010, when he smashed through former World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Brock Lesnar to capture the heavyweight crown. The 29-year-old Salinas, Calif., native tore his rotator cuff in the bout and underwent shoulder surgery in January. Based at the American Kickboxing Academy, Velasquez has secured eight of his nine professional victories by knockout or technical knockout, six of them inside one round. Wins over former Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight titleholder Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, French kickboxer Cheick Kongo and onetime International Fight League standout Ben Rothwell anchor his unblemished resume. A decorated amateur wrestler, Velasquez won a junior college national championship at Iowa Central Community College and later became at two-time NCAA All-American at Arizona State University. According to FightMetric figures, he connects on 60.9 percent of his significant strikes, second only to middleweight champion Anderson Silva in UFC history.
Dos Santos will enter the cage on an eight-fight winning streak. The 27-year-old Brazilian last fought at UFC 131 in June, when he battered and bloodied the monstrous Shane Carwin en route to a unanimous decision at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Dos Santos, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, has delivered 11 of his 13 victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission. He holds notable wins over 2006 Pride open weight grand prix winner Mirko Filipovic, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 10 winner Roy Nelson and two-time Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships winner Fabricio Werdum.
The remaining nine bouts will be streamed live on the UFC’s Facebook page and on FoxSports.com: Ben Henderson (156) vs. Clay Guida (156), Dustin Poirier (146) vs. Pablo Garza (145), Cub Swanson (145) vs. Ricardo Lamas (145), DaMarques Johnson (171) vs. Clay Harvison (169), Norifumi Yamamoto (135) vs. Darren Uyenoyama (135), Mackens Semerzier (146) vs. Robert Peralta (145), Cole Escovedo (134) vs. Alex Caceres (136), Mike Pierce (171) vs. Paul Bradley (171) and Aaron Rosa (204) vs. Matt Lucas (203).
UFC on Fox 1 “Velasquez vs. Dos Santos”
Saturday, Nov. 12
UFC Heavyweight Championship
Cain Velasquez (249) vs. Junior dos Santos (239)
Ben Henderson (156) vs. Clay Guida (156)
Dustin Poirier (146) vs. Pablo Garza (145)
Cub Swanson (145) vs. Ricardo Lamas (145)
DaMarques Johnson (171) vs. Clay Harvison (169)
Norifumi Yamamoto (135) vs. Darren Uyenoyama (135)
Mackens Semerzier (146) vs. Robert Peralta (145)
Cole Escovedo (134) vs. Alex Caceres (136)
Mike Pierce (171) vs. Paul Bradley (171)
Aaron Rosa (204) vs. Matt Lucas (203)