Oct. 23, 2010, certainly proved to be a historic night for the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Climaxing a night of exciting fights, Cain Velasquez trumped Brock Lesnar to become the first Mexican heavyweight champion in the history of combat sports.
The massive Lesnar entered the bout with a significant size advantage over the challenger, but Velasquez utilized superior technique and quickness to thoroughly dominate the polarizing champion.
The proud Mexican-American executed a brilliant gameplan, picked his shots flawlessly and finished Lesnar within four minutes of the very first round.
Now with the prestigious UFC heavyweight championship wrapped firmly around his waist, Velasquez has positioned himself at the very top of the heavyweight food chain. But is the former Arizona State All-American truly the best heavyweight in mixed martial arts today?
Prior to even joining the UFC’s roster, Velasquez’ striking coach Javier Mendez dubbed his pupil as not only the best heavyweight in the world but the greatest fighter in the entire sport pound-for-pound.
The pound-for-pound claim may be a bit of an exaggeration, but so far Velasquez has lived up to the hype.
Often referred to as “the terminator” by UFC President Dana White, Velasquez has run through every opponent that the organization has placed in front of him.
He has tossed around fighters like Cheick Kongo and Ben Rothwell with a relative amount of ease as if they were small children.
Outside of his incredible wrestling prowess, the AKA-trained fighter has also displayed superb technical striking ability in his wins over PRIDE legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Lesnar.
Aside from his offensive skill set, Velasquez is also a brilliant fighter defensively. Few heavyweights can say that they were able to stand up immediately after being taken down by the 270-plus pound NCAA wrestling stud Lesnar.
Lesnar took Velasquez down twice in their fight and within seconds, Velasquez was able to scramble back to his feet.
Clearly, when it comes to the UFC’s heavyweight division, Velasquez is the king of the mountain.
However, MMA isn’t limited to one organization. There are world-class heavyweights outside of the UFC’s barrier that could challenge Velasquez for the label of greatest heavyweight in the sport.
Strikeforce heavyweight champion Overeem is arguably the most devastating striker in the division. The Dutch kickboxing machine has been unstoppable since bulking up from the 205-pound division into the monstrous heavyweight he is today.
Overeem rivals Lesnar in terms of size and strength. He doesn’t have the wrestling pedigree of Lesnar but he makes up for it with high-level striking technique and explosive knockout power.
Clearly, Velasquez would not have an advantage in the standing position against Overeem. It would be a fight where the UFC heavyweight champion would have to rely heavily on his takedowns and ground control.
The problem is, while Velasquez certainly has a durable chin, he was rocked a few times in his 2009 bout with Kongo. There is a huge difference in punching power between Overeem and Kongo so that is where Velasquez could be in trouble.
In all likelihood though, Velasquez should be able to avoid Overeem’s striking for the most part. I would expect to see Overeem put on his back several times if this fight were to occur.
Velasquez would either finish with ground and pound or earn a hard fought decision victory.
Fresh off his incredible submission victory over previously top-ranked Fedor Emelianenko, Werdum is on the brink of a championship run in the Strikeforce heavyweight division.
The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu phenom was actually set to challenge Lesnar for the UFC championship before getting viciously knocked out by then-newcomer Junior dos Santos at UFC 90.
Werdum has made drastic improvements in his striking game over the years but Velasquez should be able to pick him apart standing.
Obviously, Werdum is a threat to any heavyweight on the ground but it is doubtful he would be able to bring the fight to the mat against the ASU All-American.
Velasquez would put Werdum away within two rounds via referee stoppage.
“The Last Emperor” has long been praised as the greatest heavyweight who has ever stepped foot in the ring.
Even coming off a shocking defeat at the hands of the aforementioned Werdum, some still believe that Emelianenko is the number one fighter in the division.
The fact is, whether fans will admit it or not, Emelianenko is not the greatest heavyweight in the world anymore. He is still an incredible fighter and one of the best in the weight class, but his days of dominance are over.
If we were ever treated to a dream fight between Velasquez and Emelianenko, Velasquez would prove that theory correct.
Of course, Emelianenko does pose threats standing and on the ground but the relentless pace of Velasquez would be the key factor.
Velasquez would grind out an impressive decision victory after delivering the Russian an utter beatdown through five rounds.
Cain Velasquez is the greatest heavyweight in MMA
So far, everything that the American Kickboxing Academy said about Velasquez has been correct. While he hasn't fought the three heavyweights mentioned above, there is no indication that he wouldn't be able to defeat them anyway.
He is the best, but let's not overlook his next opponent. Junior dos Santos is an extremely dangerous fighter and not someone that Velasquez should take lightly.
The newly crowned champion has his hands full but all signs point to a lengthy title reign for the UFC's "Terminator."
Mitch Ciccarelli is the sexiest MMA columnist on the planet. A featured columnist for B/R and staff writer for Heavy MMA, Ciccarelli is also a future United States Airman.
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