Fightweets: Will Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos go beyond three fights?

Esther Lin

Finally, it begins.

Remember that moment over the summer when you first realized the way the fall and winter mixed martial arts schedule was aligning, and you thought your head might explode?

That end-of-2013-season upon us, kicking off in earnest Saturday night, with a loaded UFC 166 in Houston. Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos. Daniel Cormier vs. Roy Nelson. Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez. And on down the line.

So let's not waste any more time. You've got plenty to discuss as Fightweets returns from a one-week absence. Will the Cain-Junior trilogy become a pentalogy? What if Cormier loses? What about the latest Nick Diaz news? And so on. Let's have at it.

Velasquez-dos Santos 4? 5?

@daviddyurko: Will there be a Velasquez vs dos Santos 4, maybe even 5?

Depends on how fight No. 3 goes. If Saturday night's trilogy fight looks the same as their second bout -- in which Cain dished out a 25-minute ass-kicking -- then I think that basically puts a wrap on things. Two consecutive one-sided fights don't exactly whet the public's appetite for another go.

But if it's a close fight, particularly if dos Santos wins, I don't see how you don't ultimately make a fourth matchup.


More Coverage: UFC 166 Results | UFC news
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In no division in the UFC is there such a clear-cut difference between the top two and the rest of the pack (I suppose one could make an argument for bantamweight with Renan Barao and Dominick Cruz, but do to so, one would have to assume that Cruz can return from his long absence and still be the Cruz of two years ago). Velasquez and dos Santos are a combined 20-2 since they both debuted in the UFC in 2008. Their only losses are to one another. And this is in the heavyweight division, where everyone has the power to end things with a knockout in a hurry. Put in that context, where all it takes is an out-of-nowhere Gabriel Gonzaga head kick to wreck the UFC's best-laid plans, Velasquez and dos Santos' runs have been remarkable.

A close decision Saturday night, or a back-and-forth slugfest that goes into the late rounds before one guy finishes it, would do nothing to dissuade the notion that these guys are Nos. 1 and 2. If you care about UFC titles meaning something from a true sporting perspective, and the two clearly demonstrate they're still heads and tails above the rest of the pack, then I don't say how you can deny an eventual fourth fight.

That's not even necessarily implying a title rematch should be immediate. The route the UFC took to get back to the Cain-JDS trilogy fight, in which both took bouts in the interim, was sensible. While Fabricio Werdum has a case for the next title shot, I personally think the Josh Barnett-Travis Browne winner has a better case. Either way, other than a second straight blowout win for Cain, I don't think there are any good reasons why the series shouldn't eventually continue.

What if Big Country wins?

@RuckerYeah: What if DC loses to Big Country? Does that change his plans?

I don't think so. Let's say Cormier does lose to Nelson on Saturday night. I don't see it happening, unless Nelson tags him with one of those big meat hooks, but for the sake of argument, let's say it does. If Cormier (who weighed in at 224 on Friday) can't beat Nelson, who's pretty much the heavyweight division's gatekeeper to the stars, doesn't that reinforce the notion he should be at light heavyweight?

Potential Nick Diaz fights

@ElCujorino: I know people want Diaz to fight Bisping but I wish the UFC would've offered him either Ruthless, Ellenberger or Brown, EPIC!

I would give anything to finally see the rematch between Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawler. How often do you find not only the window of opportunity for a rematch of a well-remembered fight open a decade later, but also with both fighters still relevant? Like, never? After all the MMA Gods have done to torment us over the past couple years, I feel like they kind of owe us this one.

But, the reporter in me loves the idea of Diaz vs. Michael Bisping. Loves it, loves it, loves it. We're talking about two of the five most quotable personalities in the entire sport. Bisping has minimal filters and doesn't care who he pisses off. Diaz seems to wake up in the morning searching for new chips to place on his shoulder. The buildup to this fight has the potential to be the greatest thing in the history of things.

Either way, on Monday, when I asked Diaz's teammate, Gilbert Melendez, about his thoughts on Diaz's retirement, Melendez said what I pretty much think we all assumed: That Diaz isn't necessarily retired, per se, but that he's just not about to go rushing into his next fight. Despite his convincing loss to Georges St-Pierre last time out, Diaz is still an A-list draw. He's in position where he can't be forced to take a fight he doesn't want, so you can't really apply the usual divisional dynamics here. I'd love to see Diaz-Lawler 2 for its own sake, but Diaz-Bisping is something that could headline a FOX show or serve as a strong pay-per-view co-main. Dana White said he loves the idea of the fight, now let's see if he can make it.

King Mo's comments on Emanuel Newton

@themikejones916: Anybody not hate King Mo? What a sore loser and a poor sport. Yeah, Newton's feminine. good comeback.

Aww, man, how can you hate King Mo? One thing I'll never quite understand is the segment of the audience that seems to get most upset about fighters who only speak in "I'll fight whoever they want me to fight next" cliches, then turns around and complains when fighters give you their unvarnished thoughts (I'm not accusing you specifically of this, themikejones, you just happened to make me think of this).

Probably the thing I like most about Mo Lawal is that you get realness from him, warts and all. Whether you like him or not, you always know exactly where he stands.

And where he stands right now is that he's obviously pissed off and embarrassed over being on the wrong end of that spinning back fist in the first fight against Newton. Most fighters on the wrong end of something like that don't want to talk about it. King Mo's owning it, even if he is trying to downplay it. Honestly, given the real level of non-manufactured hostility going into this one, I think I'm looking forward to Newton-Lawal 2 more that any fight on the Bellator PPV on Nov. 2 aside from Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez.

Women's MMA pay

@dpop2: Just a random thought but is MMA the only women's professional sport where the pay scale is the same as men. Thoughts on that

Interesting thought. I haven't sat down and done a deep dive into the numbers, but since you mentioned this, I scanned the disclosed payouts for some of the higher-profile women's fights since the UFC started promoting women's fights.

At the TUF 17 Finale on April 13, Cat Zingano vs. Miesha Tate was the fight in the arena which was treated by fans like the main event, and certainly the most memorable fight. Tate made $28,000 base pay for her loss, which was better money than anyone on the card except Urijah Faber and Browne. Zingano made $14,000 including her win bonus. Her show pay of $7,000 was the lowest on the card, as a handful of men's fighters took home $8,000. The duo also, rightfully, took home $50,000 Fight of the Night bonuses for their efforts.

At UFC on FOX 8 in Seattle, Liz Carmouche made $24,000 including her win bonus, which ranked eighth in payouts among 24 fighters. Jessica Andrade, the woman she defeated, made $8,000, which is tied with Trevor Smith for the lowest payout on the card. Germaine de Randamie and Julie Kedzie both made $9,000 base; de Randamie doubled her pay with a win bonus.

At UFC 159, Sara McMann and Sheila Gaff were both at the bottom of the show pay scale at $6,000, tied with two male fighters. McMann doubled her pay with her win bonus.

Now, before we go rushing off to proclaim that the UFC is paying women less than men, it's worth considering that these were all fighters competing for the first time in the company. The $6,000-9,000 base pay the non-star women fighters made is consistent with the male fighters who were also fighting in the UFC for the first time. The telling sign will come when the Kedzies, McManns, etc. have their second fight in the UFC and whether their base pay increases over their first fight.

And this, of course, is simply disclosed pay. It doesn't account for the infamous off-the-record bonuses. I can tell you 100 percent for sure that the UFC took very, very good care of Carmouche at her UFC 157 bout with Ronda Rousey, for example.

Bottom line: Whatever your thoughts are on the UFC's pay structure, the women aren't being treated differently than the men. Stars -- like Tate and Rousey -- make money, everyone else works their way up from the bottom. So far, the company is being consistent about it regardless of gender.

Human cockfighting

@dashamas3000: Does the "human cockfighting" label on mma still linger?

This isn't an exact answer to your question, Dashamas, but since I was on vacation last week and didn't get to weigh in on the Rousimar Palhares situation, I'm going to go ahead and use it to answer your question in a roundabout way, since it sort of ties in.

I absolutely, 100 percent agree with the decision to cut Palhares. The UFC has been consistent on these sort of matters. Babalu Sobral never fought in the UFC again after he refused to let go of his choke of David Heath at UFC 74. Paul Daley isn't coming back after his post-fight sucker punch of Josh Koscheck. For that matter, Zuffa never used Tank Abbott again after his cornermen nearly started a riot following his loss to Cabbage Correira at UFC 45.

Palhares has a history with these sort of things. White did the right thing cutting him from the roster.

The UFC sends a clear, consistent, across the board message that you fight hard and clean (okay, maybe you get away with fence grab or 10 in the process, but that's for another time) from the time the ref starts it until the final horn, but you don't tolerate shenanigans after the fight. If, after years and years of education on this topic, some people are still clinging to the "human cockfighting" cliche, then at this stage they're probably never going to get it and aren't really worth getting worried about anymore.

Got a question for a future edition of Fightweets? Go to my Twitter page and leave me a tweet.

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