When it comes to matchmaking, few things are as blatantly obvious as the idea that Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos should become one of UFC’s rare championship trilogies.
The only argument coming out of Saturday’s UFC 160 is whether Velasquez (12-1) finishing Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva early in the first round was more impressive than Dos Santos (16-2) scoring one of the most skilled heavyweight knockouts in the third round over iron-jawed Mark Hunt. The wins clearly established them as the top two in the UFC’s heavyweight division, after splitting two very different dominant performances.
In the first, Dos Santos won with a one-punch knockout in 1:01 to win the championship from the man who took the belt from Brock Lesnar. In the second, Velasquez won it back, winning every minute of every round en route to a lopsided decision.
"No brainer," said Dana White when the question was asked if that would be the next heavyweight title fight on the agenda. "If there ever was trilogy, if you look at the way both fights went, I can’t wait to see the third fight. They both looked awesome tonight. They’re the two best heavyweights in the world."
No time frame was given for the fight, other than White saying it would take place before December. Both fighters said they came out of Saturday’s fight with no injuries and seemed to offer no reason why the obvious wouldn’t happen.
"My next goal is going to be for the title," said Dos Santos. "That’s what I want. I think I can stay on top of this division for a long time."
"I thought it makes sense, definitely, I’m up for that fight," said Velasquez.
White and Velasquez mentioned they’d like to have the fight in Mexico. Televisa, the largest network in Mexico, aired Saturday’s show live. Given the reach of the network, it is likely that far more people in Mexico saw the fight than in the United States. But it’s been difficult for UFC to be able to run a live event in the country, even though Velasquez headlining such a show would likely be a success.
"For sure, I’d love to, but it all depends on UFC," said Velasquez.
"Since day one, I’ve wanted to do a fight in Mexico," said White, who has talked about doing a live show in that country for years, as the company had first targeted the U.K. and Mexico as their first outside ventures a decade ago because both countries had such passionate fans for boxing. However, the political issues of running in Mexico have been difficult.
"I’d love to do it. We’ll see what happens," said White.
There have been only two championship trilogies in UFC history. Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell had three fights over the light heavyweight title between 2003 and 2006. Couture won the first via a third round ref stoppage to become the interim champion. After Couture then beat Tito Ortiz to unify the titles, Liddell won the 2005 remach via first-round knockout. The third meeting saw Liddell win via second-round stoppage.
In the other, Tim Sylvia won two of three heavyweight title matches from Andrei Arlovski in 2005 and 2006 during a period when as much as anything, the lack of depth in the division led to the two meet so often. Arlovski won the title in the first meeting in 47 seconds with an Achilles submission after a knockdown. The second was going just like the first, with Arlovski seemingly having Sylvia finished after a knockdown, but as Arlovski rushed to finish, he got drilled with a punch and knocked out in one of the more shocking coming-from-behind title wins in UFC history. The third fight between the two was a lackluster five-round decision won by Sylvia after Arlovski injured his knee early in the fight.
Other high-profile trilogies, though not all title fights, included Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz (Ortiz winning all three), B.J. Penn vs. Matt Hughes (Penn winning two of three) and Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin (Griffin winning two of three).