Thirteen months after getting embarrassed on national TV, Cain is back on top of the heavyweight division.
The rematch between between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos was every bit as entertaining as the first was supposed to be. Their first meeting was all JDS, finishing the champion in 64 seconds. This time, the tables turned toward Cain, as he mauled Junior for five rounds on his way to taking back the title.
Now the question is what’s next for the Mexican fighter? A third meeting with Junior Dos Santos is likely somewhere down the line, but his next title defense could come against anyone from Fabricio Werdum to Stefan Struve to even Allistar Overeem. We’ll have to wait and see how the rest of the division unfolds in the coming months.
Champion: Cain Velasquez
The Cain Velasquez we expected to see in their first fight was definitely present in the rematch. The former champion came out swinging from the gate and punished Junior Dos Santos for five rounds on his way to reclaiming the title.
Velasquez had blamed his first performance on an injury that he’d suffered weeks before the bout and with his performances since then (the “Bigfoot” Silva fight was just as dominant), it’s hard not to believe him. The guy’s a beast and all signs point to a rubber match somewhere down the line.
Contenders: Fabricio Werdum, Stefan Struve, Junior Dos Santos
Junior Dos Santos was knocked and dominated throughout, but keep in mind that was his first loss since entering the UFC. If he can bounce back and destroy a top contender like Cain did last May, he could get his rematch right away.
Standing in his way, however, is Fabricio Werdum. I want to believe that Werdum is one win away from a title shot, but a win against Big Nog may not be enough to get him a match with Cain over JDS or even Allistar Overeem, should he win next month.
Let’s not forget Stefan Struve, either. He’s quietly put together the longest win streak in the heavyweight division and is coming off of a big knockout win over up-and-comer Stipe Miocic last September.
In The Discussion: Mark Hunt, Roy Nelson
I’m putting Roy Nelson back into the discussion after his last two knockout wins, but I’m completely mindful of his less than stellar track record against the division’s best (he’s been annihilated by JDS, Frank Mir, and Fabricio Werdum in the past two years).
Mark Hunt hasn’t fought in about a year, which may have cooled off his hot streak, but he finally returns to action in March to take on Stefan Struve. With a win, he legitimately throws himself into title contention.
Allistar Overeem vs. Antonia Silva – UFC 156 (February 2)
Stefan Struve vs. Mark Hunt – UFC on Fuel 8 (March 3)
Fabricio Werdum vs. Big Nog – (June 8)