UFC 166 preview – by Adam Curley Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos SantosThis is the third instalment of another classic UFC trilogy to determine who can lay claim to the title of “Baddest man on the Planet.” The first two fights couldn’t have been more different, a quick KO for JDS followed by a five-round mauling by the Mexican. How will this one go down? Velasquez was rumoured to have injured his knee prior to his title defence against the Brazilian, while the JDS camp claims he over-trained for his; so it could come down to who is the healthiest. Cain’s cardio is of the hook for a man of his size; he’s an elite wrestler and has recently earned his black belt in Brazilian ju-jitsu. Of his 12 UFC wins, 10 have come by knockout, but he couldn’t finish a badly hurt JDS last time round.Dos Santos has the best boxing in the division and grenades for fists, he’s openly stated that he thinks Cain “hits like a girl” which is unusual for the genial giant. He’s shown he can end the fight in one punch but the challenger can’t match the champ for conditioning or wrestling. This is a toss of the coin for me, but I have to go with Velasquez. I think he’ll avoid the deadly striking of JDS and use all his tools to retain the belt.Verdict: Cain Velasquez by unanimous decision.Daniel Cormier vs. Roy NelsonAKA’s second biggest name finds himself in the co-main event, for what looks to be his last fight as a heavyweight. Daniel Cormier is a former Olympic wrestler and has made no secret of his dislike for Roy Nelson. ‘Big Country’ has a right hand as large as his waistline and is a dangerous opponent for Cormier, although he is coming off a surprise loss to Stipe Miocic at UFC 161. Prior to that he’d spent less than six minutes inside the Octagon in three crushing wins, and he’ll be looking for the overhand right again to add ‘DC’ to his hit list.As dangerous as Nelson’s right hand is, I can’t see him landing it on an opponent who has far more weapons at his disposal and a better all-round game. I’m tipping a victorious end to his heavyweight stint for Cormier. Verdict: Daniel Cormier by unanimous decision. Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego SanchezThis could be one to remember with definite early claims to ‘Fight of the Night’ honours if these two come out swinging. Melendez could easily be the Lightweight Champion if things had gone his way, but if he plans another tilt at Benson Henderson’s belt, he must win impressively here.Sanchez isn’t really in anyone’s title calculations but he could definitely cause some ripples with an upset over the former Strikeforce champ. Diego’s first task is to make weight after failing on his return to 155 pounds last fight. It’ll be a scrap but I believe Melendez is a class about the former TUF winner.Verdict: Gilbert Melendez by unanimous decision.Hector Lombard vs. Nate Marquardt‘Aussie’ Hector really has to make a statement in Houston, if he doesn’t his big money UFC-contract could be in jeopardy. His three fights in the Octagon have produced two disappointing losses and a win over the now-defunct Rousimar Palhares, who wanted no part of Lombard’s stand-up at the TUF: Smashes finale last December.‘Nate the Great’ has been anything but of late, he’s coming off two straight defeats, albeit to quality opponents Jake Ellenberger and Tarec Saffiedine, but in the stacked welterweight division, a loss equals marching orders.I see this one being a quick finish, as long as Lombard goes on the attack early and leaves his hesitation in the dressing room.Verdict: Hector Lombard by TKO (punches) Round One.George Sotiropoulos vs. KJ Noons At the end of 2010 George Sots was the face of Aussie MMA, he had six straight wins in the UFC, the last of which was the submission of bonus king Joe Lauzon. We all dreamed he’d be out first UFC champ but fast forward to late 2013, and the Victorian is on his last legs.Being coach of Team Australia for TUF: Smashes no doubt saved Sotiropoulos from the axe, despite a savage TKO loss to Ross Pearson on the Gold Coast, the last of three consecutive losses.Noons has also dropped his past three fights, including his UFC debut, so this really is a classic WWE ‘Loser leaves town’ bout, and I’m backing our man George. Verdict: George Sotiropoulos by submission (Kimura) Round Two.
Robert Whittaker laughed at his own ruined knee and cracked jokes in the face of Michael Bisping’s constantly simmering rage. But after beating Yoel Romero at UFC 213, the interim champ feels…
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