By: William Holmes
On Saturday night, the biggest fight in the history of the UFC will take place on network TV. Fox will get the pleasure of showcasing a heavyweight UFC title fight between Brazilian banger Junio Dos Santos and Mexican American monster Cain Velasquez. Unfortunately for fight fans, the only fight that will be shown on TV is the heavyweight title fight between Junior Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez. Below is a preview of the top three fights on Saturday’s card.
Dustin Poirier (10-1) vs. Pablo Garza (11-1); Featherweight
The UFC’s featherweight division has some serious talent that does not get a lot of TV time, and it’s shame that this matchup won’t be shown on cable or network TV. Both Poirier and Garza have very good records and could be in line to challenge for the featherweight title one day. Garza stands at 6’1”, four inches taller than Poirier and his reach advantage will surely come into play on Saturday. Garza’s lone loss came in 2010 against Mongolian fighter Tiequan Zhang by guillotine choke in the first round. Seven of Garza’s victories have come by submission, and only two have come by KO or TKO. That loss was a big disappointment for Garza, but he rebounded with two straight victories including a beautiful flying triangle choke against Yves Jabouin.
Dustin Poirier is only 22 years old, and has gone 3-1 while fighting under the Zuffa banner. He struggled against Danny Castillo in 2010 and suffered a unanimous decision loss. However, like Garza, Poirier rebounded with three straight victories, including an impressive victory over former number one contender Josh Grispi. Five of Poirier’s victories have come by KO or TKO, and despite the reach advantage of Garza, he should have the advantage if they decide to stand and trade. Poirier should continue his hot streak and stop Garza in the second or third round by KO or TKO.
Ben Henderson (14-2) vs. Clay Guida (29-11); Lightweight
Unless the UFC brings over Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez soon, the winner of this fight will likely be challenging Frankie Edgar for the Lightweight Belt in the very near future. Guida was the former Strikeforce Lightweight Champion before losing it to Gilbert Melendez in 2006. Since then, Guida has seen mixed success going 9-5 in the UFC. His biggest victory to date was his last fight, when he derailed former WEC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis’ chance at challenging for the UFC belt. A surprisingly high number of Guida’s victories have come by submission, he has fifteen total submission on his resume. Guida has an unbelievable gas tank, and fights at a frenetic pace. Guida is riding a four fight win streak, but besides the Pettis fight, Guida tends to come up short in big fights. He lost back to back fights against Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez when a victory could have led to a possible title shot. He lost to Roger Huerta when he got the opportunity to main event an Ultimate Fighter Finale. He also lost to Gilbert Melendez when he tried to defend his Strikeforce belt.
Ben Henderson is a former lightweight champion in the WEC, and is one of the WEC’s biggest stars to cross over to the UFC. Eight of Henderson’s victories have come by submission, and two by KO or TKO. Henderson’s biggest victory to date was his thrilling demolition of top five lightweight contender Jim Miller. Henderson also has a never ending gas tank, and always seems to deliver exciting fights for the fans. Each time he steps into the cage, he appears to get better and better. Henderson also holds victories over Donald Cerrone, Jamie Varner, and Shane Roller. Henderson’s biggest loss to date was a tough and ultra close decision loss to Anthony Pettis. However, Henderson looked extremely impressive against Jim Miller, and he’ll probably look impressive against Guida and pull off a decision victory.
Cain Velasquez (9-0) vs. Junior dos Santos (13-1); Heavyweight Title
Only one of these fighters is currently undefeated, but both are undefeated in the UFC and are clearly the two best heavyweights in the UFC, and all of MMA. The fact that they are fighting for free, on network TV, is amazing and something most die hard MMA fans never thought they’d see.
Of Velasquez’s eight victories, only one has gone to decision. The rest have been finished by KO or TKO. He has incredible power, and surprisingly quick speed. The only fight that went the distance was a decision victory over noted standup MMA fighter Chieck Kongo. So Velasquez has fought someone who might have standup ability as Dos Santos and handled him easily. Velasquez is a former All American wrestler at Arizona State University, and he easily dispatched of Brock Lesnar to win the UFC heavyweight title. He actually made Lesnar look like an amateur. Perhaps most impressive was his first round KO over former Pride Heavyweight Champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Velasquez is a complete fighter, and has the talent to become a major, major, star for the UFC.
Standing across from Velasquez on Saturday will be Junior dos Santos, a man who has been on a tear since his first round KO over Fabricio Werdum. Eight of dos Santos’ victories have come by KO or TKO, and each time he looks better each time he steps into the cage. He battered former title contender Shane Carwin over three rounds, he demolished former IFL Heavyweight Champion over the course of three rounds, he knocked out former title contender Gabriel Gonzaga, and he smashed Mirko Cro Cop and forced him to tap out….to strikes. Some insiders who have seen dos Santos warm up on the mitts believe he has the hands to compete in professional boxing. His only loss was a pre UFC submission in the first round, but as anyone who follows MMA knows, it’s almost impossible to go throughout your career in MMA undefeated since there are many ways to lose.
The UFC chose the perfect fight to showcase on their network TV debut. The heavyweight division in boxing was once considered the glamour division. The UFC is capitalizing on that belief by show casing a title fight in their glamour division for free. Not only that, this fight will likely not go to the ground and be a stand up affair, as both fighters like to stand and bang. It’s likely that Velasquez will try to test dos Santos on his feet, but the moment he gets in trouble, he’ll use his wrestling to take dos Santos down and ground and pound him. If dos Santos can keep the fight standing he stands a chance at winning. However, Velasquez comes from a better camp than dos Santos, and the American Kickboxing Academy will help Velasquez come up with a solid game plan to utilize his superior wrestling and capable striking to pull off a victory.