Most MMA pundits didn’t think it could be done. The notion of Cain Velasquez falling down—and not getting back up—was something our binary brains registered as inconceivable.
The chink in Velasquez’s seemingly impenetrable armor was that he’d been out of action for 20 months, due to injury upon injury. And also the fact that Velasquez, despite his infamous cardio, maybe hadn’t given himself enough training time in Mexico City’s punishing altitude.
Fabricio Werdum was confident heading into this fight, so much so that it was a bit unnerving. Did he have some sort of ace up his sleeve? He clearly knew something that the rest of us didn’t.
It turns out what he knew was that he’d simply go out there and outwork and outpace Velasquez; he’d outstrike him and break him down, and the ace up his sleeve was his guillotine choke—the same high card he used to foil the great Fedor Emelianenko.
Following his jaw-dropping performance, Werdum told Ariel Helwani of FoxSports.com that he’d like to offer Velasquez a rematch. Perhaps the UFC goes that route, but there are other worthy contenders out there who deserve their shot at Werdum.
Velasquez can lick his wounds and bounce back by taking a fight with a heavyweight that’s a little bit farther down the totem poll. Whom should that be? Let’s explore three potential options.
Oftentimes, the UFC likes to pair up two fighters who are both coming off losses. The highest-ranked heavyweight coming off a loss, after Velasquez, is No. 5-ranked Browne.
The 6’7″ striker was most recently on the losing end of one of the greatest rounds in MMA history. Browne has lost two of his last three, having beaten down Brendan Schaub and gotten beaten up by Werdum.
The opportunity to knock off an all-time great in Velasquez would be a huge opportunity for Browne. But it also might be a nightmare matchup, and a loss would leave him reeling. For Velasquez, though, a win over Browne might be just what the doctor ordered.
Hunt is coming off back-to-back (TKO) losses to Werdum and Stipe Miocic.
A fight with a vengeful Velasquez would probably be the worst thing in the world for seventh-ranked Mark Hunt right now. But this article is about what makes sense for the fallen champ, and facing off with a fighter who doesn’t have the world’s best takedown defense could translate into a walk in the park for Velasquez.
The Roy Nelson vs. Josh Barnett Loser
This fight may actually be a loser-leaves-town match.
Nelson has taken a ton of punishment over the course of his career, and he has lost four of his last five. Barnett last fought back in December 2013, and it felt like he might never come back before taking this fight out of nowhere.
If Barnett loses, he may ride off into the sunset. If Nelson loses, he may be put out to pasture. But if the loser is a glutton for punishment then they could be fed to a Velasquez who’d likely have little trouble grinding either out.
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