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UFC 166: The Cain JDS Paradox

BRAD: As much as we at fisticuffsmanship stand behind our most staunchly held ideal of procrastination, we would remiss, nay, some word that is more old-timey and stronger than remiss, if we didn’t talk about the fight between Cain Velasquez vs Junior Dos Santos this Saturday at UFC 166. The third installment of this rivalry certainly deserves discussion, in fact like the musings of Warmachine, not writing something about this fight would be crazy. It was debatably the biggest fight last year, and has the potential to deliver the same this year. It is violence Christmas, although Anderson Silva vs Chris Weidman 2 this December may also be violence Christmas… maybe the start of violence Hanukkah? Regardless, this trilogy may go down as the best of MMA rivalry of all time.

However, the thing that intrigues me the most about this fight has less to do with the fight and more with a peculiarity in my own feeling about it: my “gut” is eerily silent on this one. Usually any fight where I have the slightest inkling about who the fighters are and what they can do, my gut tells me who I think will win, and as often as not I find find facts to confirm this option rather than arriving at a logical fight outcome through a more methodical analysis. This obviously isn’t terribly scientific, and to pretend emotional red herrings such as if I like a guy or if he has cool facial hair, or fond memories of when he did that crazy thing to that one dude don’t factor in to my picks at some level would be a lie. But this gut reaction is always there, except in this fight.

Despite the wealth of information my gut can call upon to decide a winner in Velasquez vs JDS, it has given up. It is ambivalent because it is forced to take into account the cognitive dissonance inducing first two fights between the two men. Both fights were as decisive as could be, but for opposite men. The results seem mutually exclusive and incapable of existing in the same plane of reality, but they do. The first fight ends with a shocking quickness, and seems to confirm things I think I know about both fighters. JDS wins because his hand speed and power are a combo akin to sleeping pills and a nice down pillow when it comes to the consciousness of other men, and for as scary as Cain is anywhere, taking his opponents down is his most dominant and safest road to victory, as it protects his possibly questionable chin. In the rematch Cain will have to try to take JDS down, but no one has been able to do this. How is Cain going to be able to avoid a second dose of Ambien from Dos Santos for 25 minutes when he couldn’t avoid it for even 2 minutes in the first fight?

Turns out pretty easily. JDS seems content to move backwards with his hands down in the early going to avoid that takedown, which leaves his head unprotected against a devastating overhand right. This leads to 4+ rounds of the most one sided championship fight to go the distance that I’ve ever seen. After the initial shock of just how horribly, horribly wrong I was about this fight wears off, I spent most of the fight marveling at Junior’s durability and his ability to avoid being finished while clearly still being under the influence of a bell ringing so epic it inspired an Anita Ward song, over 3 decades ago.

These fights together make as much sense in my head as two sides of the Penrose triangle, just waiting for the third fight to impossibly complete it. Neither fight seems like a fluke because they took turns doing what they do to the rest of the heavyweight division, only to each other. Both men had valid excuses for their losses, and I’m willing to believe both.

So I’m left with this set of questions for Larry: does this fight make you ponder the possibility of parallel yet paradoxically overlapping realities being caused by rifts in the space time continuum as the only explanation for the lack of parity between the two fights? If so will those realities collapse in on themselves during the 3rd fight on Saturday? If so is it too late hoard .223 ammo (to shoot at the approaching void, I guess… the plan has flaws)?

LARRY: I’ve never met a void I couldn’t kill. I’ve got no gut feeling on this fight either. Frankly, I feel like the tiny subconscious people who figure this stuff out for me are a little gun-shy. Gut-shy? My instincts told me that Cain was a better fighter, and that JDS was skilled, but would lose the first bout. Yep. Junior dos Santos, KO, 1. Then, just when sure that JDS has developed the arsenal and takedown defense to stay champ, Cain goes out and gets all terrifying. So you know what? I have no idea.

I guess in a situation like this one, we’re left to ponder what may have changed. For one, both men had an injury concern going into their loss. Rumor has it Junior was going through a tough personal times as well, and may not have been as focused as usual. With luck, both men are healthy and have received the world class training at their disposal. I suppose then we should look to their last bouts. JDS was most impressive finishing Mark Hunt, but we must keep in mind that Mark Hunt is still, after all, Mark Hunt. Going upside Hunt’s big water-buffalo head with a spinning kick was fantastic, and finishing off the back of it was even better. But do we learn anything from that? Not really. Ok, so Junior has a brutal spinning kick at his disposal, but Hunt was essentially standing still when it landed. I’m not sure Cain Velasquez can even stay in one spot for very long (you know, apart from the end of the first JDS fight). We can glean even less from Cain’s bloodletting of Bigfoot Silva. Essentially we learned that Velasquez is MORE terrifying then we thought. Somehow.

I’m out of ideas Brad. Both men are wonderful athletes. Junior is a thrilling boxer with fast, powerful hands and a keen eye for openings. He is very hard to take down, and it’s even harder to keep him down. Oh, and granite chin. Granite. Velasquez, has tremendous speed and strength in his grappling, and has a dogged determination to fight on his terms. Cain has a few fewer arrows in quiver when it comes to striking, but his punches are fast, tight, and in combination. Essentially, these men contrast each other perfectly. I think Cain has the edge in footwork, both in the center of the cage and against the fence, but even the perfect counter is unlikely to put JDS down.

I clearly have no answer to the main event of 166, so allow me to try a few alternative methods of prediction.

After putting the quandary to www.ask8ball.net, it in forms me I should “Ask Again Later” Upon further review, The Ball favors Cain.

According to the kid I just traded Pokemon with online, the winner of tomorrow’s main event is: ありがとう. Apparently this means “Arigato” which I believe has something to do with robots. We’ll mark that down as undecided.

A quick text to my Mom revels her answer to be: “Huh?” She must have meant JDS. You know Mom’s and their predictive text wackiness.

Well, there you have it, the universe is undecided as well. Let’s just enjoy it. One of these two men will take a step towards being the best Heavyweight of all time tomorrow night, and the beautiful thing is that even with a loss, the other man is right behind him still. Unless something changes drastically, it’ll be a crime if they only fight three times. I have a hard time believing we won’t want more after 166. If I must pick, I’ll go way way back to my gut a few years ago and pick Cain. I believe he’s both the better fighter, and the better athlete.

How about it, Brad. Who do you like?

BRAD: I read www.ask8ball.net just got sanctioned by the CSAC, used it’s connections with Marc Ratner. Zing!

I guess I like Cain to be winning the fight on points at all times, but JDS only needs one good shot. If JDS can find a way to stand his ground in the early going and stop Cain from moving forward, he has a great chance. Is that by stuffing takedowns, or the exact opposite and ignoring takedown defense to put all effort on catching Cain coming in? This sounds a bit silly, but even on ice skates, Junior was able to get back to his feet in the second fight without too much trouble. I’m not a fight strategist so I don’t know how to fix it, but I feel like the JDS that moves backwards like the first round of the second fight can’t win against Cain. So I guess what I’m saying is I’m leaning Cain, unless JDS throws him a new wrinkle. How’s that for a non-prediction prediction? Nicely hedged if I do say so myself. I just wrote a paragraph and what came out is a dressed up version of: if it looks like the second fight, Cain will win. In related news Bruce Buffer will tell us when the live broadcast begins, and Joe Rogan will get way too excited about a half assed submission attempt.

Larry any final thoughts? Or should I CC Miss Cleo?

LARRY: I think we’ve pretty much wrung our hands as much as possible. I’m pretty excited for this card, top to bottom it’s intriguing. Kauffman vs. Eye and Dodson vs Montague are both fantastic bouts and which will be more competitive then people are giving them credit for (Eye is around +200 and Montague +300). I also look forward to Kyoji Horiguchi being in the UFC (youtube him. Trust me).

Enough of this! Time for fighting!

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