UFC 121 will take place next Saturday night at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA and will feature the highly anticipated bout between Cain Velasquez and current UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.
UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar gained some credit with hardcore MMA fans after coming back from first round trouble to defeat Shane Carwin at UFC 116. The fighters that train with undefeated fighter Cain Velasquez simply couldn’t sing his praises any more than they do, and his first round demolition of MMA legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira did nothing to decrease the hype. In fact, the hype on Velasquez is so great that many are picking him to defeat Lesnar at UFC 121.
All three coaches go one to talk about Velasquez cardio, with Camarillo explaining that Velasquez’s goes so hard in training that his sparring partners are unable to go the full five minutes with him, and that each partner only goes two-and-a-half minutes before someone else takes their place. Cook, the strategy coach, continues; “We’re constantly calling up and getting new sparring partners for him because he goes through them. We always tell him “don’t break your toys.”” “You’re going to see Brock Lesnar gets exposed for the first time,” Cook warns. “There is going to be somebody who is a better wrestler, a better striker, a better ground guy, in better shape, and Brock’s not going to have enough to deal with him.
As good as Velasquez’s wrestling is, Lesnar’s background would seem to indicate that his skills in this arena are better. We’re talking about a guy that has taken home both the 1998 NJCAA Heavyweight and 2000 NCAA Heavyweight Championships. He also placed second at the NCAA’s in 1999 and managed a 106-5 overall wrestling record over four years in college, all of which he achieved All American status during. Velasquez was also very good, bringing home All American honors twice for Arizona State and a junior college national championship previous to that. But Lesnar’s wrestling resume is simply better.
Lesnar’s last opponent, Shane Carwin, hit like a truck. Does he possess the same level of technical striking skills that Velasquez does? No. But if he had hit Cheick Kongo as cleanly as Velasquez did (on several occasions) during their UFC 99 encounter, it would have been over. In other words, Velasquez has less of a chance of ending a fight quickly on his feet than Carwin did, and Carwin couldn’t even do it against Lesnar. The same level of power is not there, even if his technical skills are better. Though Velasquez often stops his opponents, it is usually due to cumulative effect, most often via dominant ground control and the aftermath from it.
This is a new Lesnar. Older, wiser and less smug. Those are evolutions that enhance his ability to compete in the UFC heavyweight division. None of it will tell us if he can defeat Cain Velasquez, but I take his silence and serenity as a prioritization on focusing on what matters. Less distraction, more about the simple requirements of life. For Lesnar and for fight fans, that can only be a good thing.