Cain Velasquez Has A Lot To Prove Upon Return And ‘UFC 188’ Is His Proving Ground

At UFC 188: Velasquez vs. Werdum, Cain Velasquez will go one-on-one against Fabrício Werdum in the champion vs. champion main event. The majority of the MMA community believes Velasquez will win this fight using his title history for their reasoning. It does make sense for them to do so since Velasquez decimated Brock Lesnar to win the title for the first time at UFC 121. Then, during his second (and current) title run, Velasquez destroyed Junio dos Santos in their third fight at UFC 166. Both fights showed just how aggressive Cain Velasquez can be in the Octagon.

UFC is touting Cain Velasquez as the “the baddest man in UFC.” However, Velasquez has more to prove now, and it all begins tonight at UFC 188: Velasquez vs. Werdum. The reasons why the event is his proving ground are the numerous factors working against him. When analyzed, Velasquez is more likely to lose his champion vs. champion match against Fabrício Werdum.

First factor: Cain Velasquez has been out of action for almost 20 months, as reported by Bleacher Report. Velasquez’s last fight was his third fight and title defense against Junior dos Santos at UFC 166. Being on the shelf for almost two years is a killer in MMA, or any sport for that matter. To be fair, there was a good reason why Velasquez was out but that brings up the second factor: injuries. Velasquez needed the time to heal a rotator cuff injury and recover from knee surgery. He hasn’t just been training for the last 20 months, so he’s been trying to bring life back to his shoulder. He’s been going through therapy to gain basic movement back into his knee.

However, let’s say Velasquez is primed for the fight, training and recovering the best he can within his time away. That is fine and dandy until the third factor comes in: age. Right now, Velasquez is 32, and across all professional sports, most athletes peak at 26 to 31. With age, being prone to injury increases, fatigue sets in faster, and speed slows. It is important for athletes to keep training. Fabrício Werdum may be five years Velasquez’s senior, but he wasn’t out for almost two years. As a matter of fact, while Velasquez was away, Werdum had two fights in 2014: against Travis Browne winning the Interim UFC Heavyweight Championship and against Mark Hunt in a successful defense.

Finally, the last factor that works against Cain Velasquez is history. According to Bloody Elbow, the UFC Heavyweight Championship is the oldest championship in the promotion. However, it has the least number of title defenses prior to the title changing hands, as shown in the listing below (excluding the women’s strawweight division).

  • Middleweight – 10
  • Welterweight – 9
  • Light Heavyweight – 8
  • Featherweight – 7
  • Flyweight – 6
  • Women’s Bantamweight – 5
  • Bantamweight – 3
  • Lightweight – 3
  • Heavyweight – 2

Cain Velasquez has already defended his title twice against Antônio Silva and Junior Dos Santos. Fabrício Werdum has only defended his title once against Mark Hunt. If history is any indicator, Werdum can still win one more defense. Velasquez is maxed out.

With all the factors working against Cain Velasquez, he has a lot to prove tonight at UFC 188. However, if he does prove it, Velasquez will surely stand out from other heavyweight MMA fighters in UFC. By winning, he will be the first UFC Heavyweight Champion to go beyond two title defenses. By winning, he will prove that he hasn’t lost a step despite his injury history, his time away, and his age. By winning, Velasquez may have well proved to UFC that he is currently the baddest man in the promotion.

[Image via Alexis Cuarezma/Stringer/Getty]