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UFC on FOX Main Event Breakdown: Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos

The UFC on FOX main event may well feature the best heavyweight title matchup the UFC has ever offered. That's a subjective assessment of course, but the numbers clearly show there is a valid argument to be made for it.

Combined, champion Cain Velasquez and challenger Junior dos Santos have a record of 22-1, for a .956 winning percentage. In the 18-year history of the UFC, only one heavyweight title fight has featured participants with a higher mark. At UFC 41 in 2002, Ricco Rodriguez and Tim Sylvia took a combined .968 win percentage into their title bout. Few would disagree that Velasquez and dos Santos are far more skilled as all-around mixed martial artists than those fighters of nearly 10 years ago.

The success of both starts with offense. Both men are among the most prolific offensive heavyweights in UFC history. Actually, they are the most prolific offensive fighters in UFC history among all divisions. Again, this can be proven with numbers. According to FightMetric, they rank No. 1 and 2 in UFC history for significant strikes landed per minute all-time.

Velasquez (9-0) is the record holder in the stat, using his high-paced style to land an astonishing 7.46 strikes per minute, a number that easily surpasses dos Santos, who lands 6.79 strikes per minute.

Velasquez is an opportunistic offensive fighter, flexible enough in his approach to take whatever opening is available. That makes him quite difficult to prepare for as well as to fight. Compustrike numbers show that he lands 53 percent of his standing arm strikes, a very high number. By contrast, dos Santos -- considered by most the better boxer -- lands 45 percent. No doubt, the threat of takedowns opens up other avenues for him.

And takedowns have certainly been a strength of his as well. Velasquez is successful on 72 percent of his attempts, leading to his relentless ground-and-pound attack. Most of his eight TKO wins have come on ground strikes.

Perhaps his most valuable weapon though is his conditioning. Velasquez is the record-holder in landed strikes because he can keep a frenetic pace longer than anyone else in his division. As his opponent begins to fade, Velasquez has the energy to keep going and take over the fight.

If there is one concern about him, it is the structural integrity of his surgically repaired right shoulder. Orthopedists will tell you that the shoulder is one of the most difficult repairs on a professional athlete, because the joint must be able to pivot in multiple directions, bear weight, push and pull. In Velasquez's case, he has to have the strength and mobility to punch with precision, the power to force dos Santos into directions he doesn't want to go, and the health to sustain his prolonged attacking nature.

dos Santos (13-1) will need two things to successfully compete with Velasquez: stamina and takedown defense. Since Velasquez is so unique in the way he attacks, it's hard to determine how dos Santos' previous history will translate into this title fight. At least in both of his UFC fights that have gone to decision, he has maintained his conditioning deep into the fight. In round three of his unanimous decision win over Roy Nelson, for example, he threw more strikes in the third round (111) than in the first (96).

Wrestling-wise, dos Santos doesn't have a pedigree to rival that of Velasquez, who was a collegiate All-American, but his takedown defense has been elite, stopping 83 percent of attempts against him. Admittedly, he has never faced any fighter who uses wrestling as effectively as Velasquez. Even his most recent opponent Shane Carwin, who himself was a collegiate All-American wrestler, can't match up. But when dos Santos has been tested, he's passed with flying colors. Carwin was able to take him down once in three tries, but couldn't hold him down.

Historically, if a wrestler can't take his opponent down in his early attempts, he will tire and have more trouble early on. But with Velasquez's conditioning, he is not likely to follow that script, and might actually be more effective later on, especially if dos Santos tires first.

If dos Santos manages to keep the fight upright, he has shown his skills can match up with anyone in the world. Preferring straight boxing as his style, dos Santos boasts quick hands, good head movement and excellent footwork. The knockout machine Carwin never came close to hitting him with anything major, and looked noticeably slower than him. That's a trend, as his opponents only connect on 36 percent of their strikes against him.

The numbers on both fighters are exceptional. Their stats, their percentages, and their success rates are all off the charts. The questions about Velasquez's shoulder after the 13-month layoff are legitimate, but we have to assume he's at least close to what he used to be. Velasquez at 100 percent -- with his unpredictable mix of striking, wrestling and groundwork -- was the best heavyweight in the world.

He'll need all the facets of his game to beat dos Santos. While he's more than capable of staying with the challenger punch for punch, he'll have his best chance of victory by dragging dos Santos to the ground. I believe he'll be able to do it, or he'll force dos Santos to expend so much energy staying off the ground that his offense will suffer.

dos Santos will no doubt have his moments. He's too good not to. He's shown he has the power to hurt anyone, but his game is dependent on being upright, and there's yet to be anyone who can stop Velasquez from taking him down. I'm banking that dos Santos won't be the first. After a back and forth opening two rounds, dos Santos will begin to slow down, and Velasquez will take the fight over midway through. Velasquez via third-round TKO.

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