By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
When Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos squared off last year in the first main event for the UFC on Fox, neither fighter was 100% healthy. They admitted as much after the event, but with so much on the line - not just with the title fight but with the heavy promotion that went into the bout for the UFC and Fox - neither wanted to pull out of the bout.
Of course, it didn't matter, as dos Santos landed a knockdown blow a minute into the fight and finished things on the ground, but the injury issue definitely had each fighter approaching things a bit differently. Now we have a little more information as to the nature of Velasquez's injury, as his American Kickboxing Academy teammate Jon Fitch spoke with Tatame.com to discuss their impending rematch.
"I think that in the first fight, he didn't show everything he could do," Fitch said (transcribed by FiveKnuckles.com). "He had a severe knee injury, and was limited by what he could do, but it was such an important fight so he couldn't miss it. It was important for the company, for the fans and for the world. He continued, even knowing that he should not."
"He went against the advice of everyone on the team, and doctors, but pulling from the card was not an option at the time. It will be very different with him being able to show all his tools. He was hurt and thinking about his knee. He wanted to kick the legs of Junior, but he was thinking, 'I can't kick.' When your head is not in the fight, you get hurt."
Velasquez will attempt to regain the UFC Heavyweight Championship from dos Santos at UFC 155, which goes down in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec. 29.
Penick's Analysis: One of the reasons Velasquez wasn't going immediately for his gameplan, which was to grapple more with such a dangerous striker, was because of the injury he was dealing with. Of course, dos Santos was thinking something similar, and fought a little more urgently in the first than he might have otherwise because of his own injury. He didn't want to get dragged into later rounds, as he himself was hurt and didn't think he could necessarily take things through five. So both fighters had injuries that hampered them, and everyone will be hoping for both to be close to 100% on Dec. 29. If they are, we could get a much more defining fight between the two.
[Jon Fitch art by Cory Gould (c) MMATorch.com]
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