Cain Velasquez, the newly crowned heavyweight champion with wins over Brock Lesnar and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, was undefeated and dominant. It all ended on Nov. 12, 2011, when Junior dos Santos landed an overhand to knock him out in just 64 seconds.
Velasquez didn’t quit, though. The American Kickboxing Academy heavyweight came back and earned another shot at the gold after a quick win over Antonio Silva. He had his chance to avenge his loss to dos Santos, and he did it with a 25-minute domination.
Dos Santos, who lost to Velasquez one more time a year later, finds himself in an intriguing position in the heavyweight division. "Cigano" basically dominated the rest of the division, but just can’t put him inside the Octagon against Velasquez one more time.
"Cigano" left Salvador for Rio de Janeiro to train at Nova Uniao and Team Nogueira, and learns from Velasquez’s evolution to have his own.
"I admire (Velasquez) a lot," dos Santos told the Brazilian media on Thursday. "He overcame after that first loss, learned from his mistakes and blocked my game to defeat me. I’m looking for this evolution for me now, and I will find it."
Dos Santos has beaten the likes of Fabricio Werdum, Frank Mir, Shane Carwin and Mark Hunt under the UFC banner, and is confident that Dana White won’t have any option but give him another shot at the gold after he beats more heavyweight contenders.
"I’m open-minded and I learn things quickly," he said. You’ll see a different ‘Cigano’ in my next fights. This is going to put me against Velasquez again, and I hope the result will be different than the last couple fights."
"I’m still the No. 1 contender, but it’s obvious that I won’t fight for the title anytime soon," he continued. "But if he stays champion and I win more fights, maybe three more fights, we will fight again. I have a real chances of defeating him."
UFC has yet to announce when will "Cigano" return to the Octagon and while he waits, he breaks down Browne vs. Werdum and their chances in a title fight against Velasquez.
"Every fighter has a chance," he said. "You never know what’s going to happen in MMA. The winner of Werdum and Browne, they both have what it takes to bring the fight to Velasquez or even defeat him.
"Werdum has better chances on the ground. Velasquez has good takedowns and Werdum has real chances on the ground. Travis Browne has knockout power, and one punch can make the difference."
They have a shot, but it doesn’t seem that dos Santos would bet on any of them against the only man that stopped him in the UFC.
"Velasquez is unique," he said. "He came here to complicate the division and even break some records."