If you were to examine the brief history of the UFC you'd quickly realize that we are in the golden age of heavyweights. Size and physique have obviously always been important but when it's coupled with technique, agility and an overall higher level of athleticism you have the recipe for the modern UFC heavyweight. No other man better exemplifies these traits than current heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.
Velasquez will defend his title May 25 in a rematch against the monstrous Bigfoot Silva who is coming off of a shocking third round KO of Alistair Overeem.
Let's take a closer look at what is sure to be a violent display of heavyweight action.
Perhaps the most underrated man in the heavyweight division, Bigfoot seems to relish the role of underdog. After losing to Velasquez in dominating fashion almost a year to the day of their rematch, Bigfoot played spoiler again when he defeated Overeem last February. With the victory he earned another crack at the champ.
Besides being blessed with seemingly superhuman power in his fists, Bigfoot is a great fighter. He is a legitimate BJJ black belt with downright scary ground and pound. On top of that he is also quicker than he seems.
His first loss to Velasquez was rather quick after he threw an early leg kick that was caught and used to take him down. We don't expect Bigfoot to make the same mistake twice especially with the belt on the line. Look for Bigfoot to engage with his fists early as he attempts to put the smaller champ on his heels. He will have to avoid big exchanges with the faster and more technical Velasquez all while stuffing the takedown. If he could somehow tire the champion out and take the fight to the ground, look for Bigfoot's signature hammer fists.
Fighting Velasquez is a tall order for any UFC heavyweight, but if there is anyone who has a puncher's chance it would be Bigfoot. The only way he wins this fight is by KO.
When Velasquez lost his title to Junior Dos Santos at the end of 2011, many wondered if we've already seen the best of the two-time champion. Velasquez silenced all detractors after two commanding victories over Bigfoot and the man who defeated him, Dos Santos.
Velasquez is the most complete fighter in the heavyweight division. The speed advantage over almost everyone else in the division is where it starts. The NCAA Division I wrestling pedigree can only be matched by fellow heavyweight and training partner Daniel Cormier. The gas tank allows him to apply constant pressure while the sometimes four to five punch combinations can put any man to sleep. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Velasquez is the fact that every time we see him in the octagon, he's gotten better.
What the champion needs to do in order to defend his title is simple - take it to the ground. Take one look at his last two performances and you'll see that is where Velasquez does his most damage. Expect Velasquez to push forward with his kickboxing skills against the slower Bigfoot where he could setup a possible clinch or takedown. From there he'll be able to do anything he wants; elbows, punches and possibly a submission. We also won't be shocked if Velasquez decides to just stand and kick box with his flat-footed opponent as he a distinct advantage in technical striking.
The Bottom Line
It seems that wherever this fight goes, Velasquez has the advantage. He is superior in almost every facet of the game and we expect Bigfoot to fall hard. However, in a division of titans, Bigfoot may have the heaviest hands of all. He also shines brightest as the underdog.
The golden age continues.
Zachary Hutton is the lead boxing writer and an MMA contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can see what he's up to at his band's website myunclethewolf.com or also subscribe on Facebook.