UFC 166: Why the UFC Needs a Dominant Cain
This Saturday’s main event between UFC Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and arch rival Junior Dos Santos is not only the rubber fight in their trilogy, but it will decide who will be the heavyweight king for the foreseeable future.
With that in mind, for the benefit of the UFC, there can only be one winner: Cain Velasquez.
Junior Dos Santos is a great fighter, don’t get me wrong. His ability to knock an opponent cold with one punch is a gift and a pleasure to watch. His hands are like cheer bombs, ready to explode the crowd into a frenzy during any part of a fight. He’s an exciting fighter, whose pedigree within the heavyweight division cannot be disputed.
So why than am I making the case that a loss on Saturday by this great fighter would be the best outcome for Dana White and company? The reason is quite simple: Cain Velasquez’s ceiling as a sports superstar is higher than his Brazilian counterpart.
For one, Cain looks like someone who could beat you up. Not that Dos Santos doesn’t; and the educated MMA fan should know better to judge a fighter by his or her size, but the fact remains for the general public, when you think of “the baddest man on the planet” you think of someone who is part man, part caveman. While the diehard mixed martial arts fan will hate the fact that a fighter’s look should play any part in his/her potential success, the fact remains that it does. When one looks at Cain Velasquez, their immediate reaction is, he must be some kind of fighter. One just has to look at the meteoric rise of Brock Lesnar to see how a fighter’s look can affect their career. During his run at UFC heavyweight contender and champion, Lesnar looked the part more of a monster than anyone else. While his win/loss record might not have been convincing, the fact that he was a dominant pay per view draw cannot be disputed.
Secondly, the heavyweight division is perhaps the UFC’s most uninteresting and thin division today. With Daniel Cormier saying that his fight with Roy Nelson will be his last at heavyweight, added to the fact he is a close friend and training partner of Cain, means that the most interesting potential fight is off the cards. So where does that leave the winner of Saturday’s main event? Fabricio Werdum seems like the next logical step. While Werdum has definitely turned his career around, a fight between him and JDS or Cain does not exactly sound like the heavyweight barn burner the UFC needs. Josh Barnett’s return to the UFC definitely adds some necessary fascination to the division, as he is both a top fighter and personality. However, the rest of the division is filled with intriguing unknowns like Travis Browne, Brendan Schaub and Shawn Jordan, or guys past their primes or fighters who were unable to win the “big fight” like Roy Nelson, Mark Hunt, Antonio Nogueira and Bigfoot Silva. All of these fighters bring something interesting to the table, but all are flawed enough that potential fights with Saturday’s winner would have more questions than excitement.
This is why a Velasquez victory on Saturday is so important.
If the UFC can’t create intriguing enough matchups that people will drop their hard earned money on, they need to create an aura around their champ. The idea that the heavyweight champion of the world is an undefeatable monster can counter a flawed matchup. Cain Velasquez presents himself not only as this potential monster, but his fight record demonstrates he can be advertised as such. His only loss, coming at the hands of JDS can be looked at as a “lucky shot” on an injured champ. His dominant performance against Bigfoot Silva (twice) and crushing defeat of Dos Santos to regain the title can prove to both the MMA and general viewer that Cain is the best big man in the world. Moreover, his overall skills as a fighter are better than JDS apparent one trick pony style. He has a better chance of remaining the king of the division than his counterpart. Seeing this dominant champion then work his way through the rest of the division equals potential pay per view buys.
Finally, there is the point that Velasquez represents a huge potential market that the UFC has yet to fully capitalize on, the Latino American community. Being a Mexican-American fighter can lead the UFC into a new potential market that has the chance to explode in Mexico itself. This doesn’t include the large Latin-American population that the United States features. Having a dominant Hispanic champion offers more opportunity than “another” Brazilian champ – of which the UFC has/had many.
Saturday’s fight will offer viewers a final chance to witness two great rivals fight for perhaps the last time. While they may not say it, or even think it, it is in best interests of the sport, that the champion retains his title.