The UFC has seen a handful of truly tremendous rivalries throughout the years – Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock, Georges St. Pierre vs. Matt Hughes, and Chuck Liddell vs. Randy Couture to name but a few. Now it appears the company could be on the brink of another epic series in the making between heavyweights Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez.
Set to square off for the first time this Saturday night on FOX in the organization’s debut on network television, Dos Santos and Velasquez are both talented competitors entering their primes and are likely to be in the title-scene for years to come whether wearing divisional gold for prospecting for it.
In a recent interview with the UFC’s website, the 13-1 Dos Santos commented on the likelihood of facing Velasquez a second time if not eventually a third, saying, “Yes, I’m sure that regardless of the outcome of this fight, we will fight each other again. I know that, but I don’t spend time thinking about future fights; the only fight on my horizon is the one directly ahead of me.”
Though the match-up in front of him is considered to be perhaps the most significant in UFC history, the 27-year old Brazilian behemoth isn’t phased by the additional weight on his shoulders.
“The importance of the fight isn’t lost on me. I know what a huge event it is,” Dos Santos explained. “But I go into every fight ready to give my best, ready to give my all. I take the importance of the event, I take what you call “pressure,” and I turn that into motivation. That’s what it is for me – motivation to fight my best game, and to leave everything I have inside that Octagon.”
If tomorrow’s tussle is indeed the beginning of a new rivalry it will be one predicated on respect rather than contempt, as Dos Santos not only praised the way he’d been treated by Velasquez, but shared his own philosophy when it comes to competition.
“I think people have a lot of misconceptions about the sport. And it doesn’t help when fighters act like cavemen to each other. But sometimes people who scream the loudest get the most attention, and in effect the negative behavior is rewarded. It’s tough to fault somebody for something that seems to work effectively in their favor. For me, personally, I prefer to do my talking inside the Octagon. I treat other athletes with respect, and I have no ill will or hard feelings towards anybody. I fight for the sport, and I talk where it matters – in the Octagon.”
Fans can catch greatness in the making on FOX when things start up at 9:00 PM EST with preliminary pairings being shown live through Facebook starting a few hours earlier.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC