MMA Game Changers: Brock Lesnar

nullThis is the first in a series of posts I will be doing on game changers in MMA history.

Starting in the heavyweight division, I point to Brock Lesnar.

Love him or hate him, Lesnar’s arrival to the MMA scene changed the face of the division forever.

Despite just 7 pro fights in his career, you can clearly see a difference between how the division works now compared to how it worked when he first arrived.

Lesnar first appeared in MMA in 2007 and made his UFC debut in early 2008.

At the time, the heavyweight division had been run by the likes of Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski, two predominant strikers.

Then came Randy Couture, a man who now can’t even fight at heavyweight due to the size differential. Couture was the heavyweight champion when Lesnar broke into the octagon.

When Lesnar showed up, everyone paid attention. Not only did it seem like a gimmick that a pro wrestler would move into MMA and into the UFC, but his shear size was hard to ignore.

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UFC targeting San Jose for Velasquez vs. dos Santos

nullLet’s not waste any time.

Junior dos Santos just defeated Shane Carwin last week to earn a future UFC Heavyweight Title shot against Cain Velasquez, but the UFC already appears to have the date and location set for the upcoming bout.

According to the L.A. Times, the two top heavyweights will meet on the champion’s stomping grounds of San Jose, California.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship is pursuing Nov. 19 as the date that heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez will make his first title defense against once-beaten Junior dos Santos at San Jose’s HP Pavilion, company chairman Lorenzo Fertitta told The Times Thursday.

Velasquez (9-0, 8 KOs) is from Yuma, Ariz., but he trains in San Jose and was born in Salinas, the son of a migrant worker.

Velasquez hasn’t fought since October, when he upset champion Brock Lesnar at Honda Center in Anaheim by first-round TKO. Velasquez underwent shoulder surgery after the fight, forcing the layoff.

The Nov. 19 date is expected to be UFC 138, and it will be the first time San Jose has held a UFC PPV event.

In fact, the promotion hasn’t been to California since Velasquez defeated Lesnar in Anaheim at UFC 121.

Future Fight Watch: Velasquez a slight favorite over dos Santos

nullThe next marquee heavyweight bout has been set with Cain Velasquez defending his title against No. 1 contender, Junior dos Santos.

Though the fight won’t come for months, the debate has already been heated about which fighter is favored.

The opening odds actually had Junior dos Santos as a -125 favorite over Velasquez (-105) but after some debate, it appears that the champion has now become the one to beat.

BetOnFighting.com has the champion as a -120 favorite while dos Santos now has odds of -110.

While dos Santos looked the best he ever has in his dominant win over Shane Carwin last Saturday, Velasquez is another animal.

Cain has solid, technical boxing, and his wrestling may be as strong as anyone’s in MMA. The takedown defense dos Santos had against Carwin may not be strong enough to keep him off his back. Also, Carwin didn’t display the technical striking I thought he would against dos Santos. I suspect Velasquez will have the ability to get inside that long reach.

While I won’t say that Velasquez will clearly win, I do feel he is being somewhat disrespected by the sportsbooks in this one. He is a complete package and a worthy champion.

UFC 131 Results & Review – Dos Santos A Legit Threat To Velasquez

nullJunior dos Santos was the No. 1 contender to the UFC heavyweight title coming into UFC 131, and he is still the No. 1 contender after UFC 131.

The 26-year-old heavyweight improved to 13-1 with a unanimous decision victory over Shane Carwin on Saturday, dominating the entire fight. Dos Santos’ reach proved to be a big factor as Carwin struggled to get inside Junior and dos Santos also showed impressive takedown defense to keep the fight standing.

In the first round, Carwin was nearly finished (and I personally would have stopped the fight) as he took a barrage of strikes from Junior that left him a bloody mess, but he managed to survive and last all 15 minutes.

Dos Santos looked as good as I have ever seen him and he appears to be a legit threat to UFC heavyweight champ, Cain Velasquez.

The co-main event saw Kenny Florian successfully make his featherweight debut by beating Diego Nunes by unanimous decision. Florian lost the first round on two scorecards but bounced back by controlling a tired Nunes for the final 10 minutes.

The other big win of the night came for Mark Munoz, who won a close decision over Demian Maia. All three rounds were competitive and close, but all judges scored the bout for the wrestler, Munoz. Maia showed impressive striking in the first round while Munoz controlled the fight with his wrestling in the final two rounds.

For complete UFC 131 results, check out the jump.

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UFC 131 Picks & Predictions

nullUFC 131 takes place on Saturday from the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Here is a rundown of my takes on all the main card bouts.

Heavyweight Bout – Shane Carwin (12-1) vs. Junior dos Santos (12-1) – This should be an explosive fight and I see Carwin walking out the winner. I don’t see the fight going beyond five minutes as both fighters have explosive power. I suspect Carwin can take a punch better than dos Santos, which will allow him to earn a first round KO.

Featherweight Bout – Kenny Florian (13-5) vs. Diego Nunes (16-1) – This will be a tough test for Florian, who is making his 145-pound debut against Nunes, who is on a nice run as of late. If Florian can handle the weight cut and continue to fight his style, he should be able to out-class Nunes and secure a submission in the third. I suspect Florian will do just that.

Middleweight Bout – Demian Maia (14-2) vs. Mark Munoz (10-2) – Munoz is a tough guy, but I think he will struggle with Maia on the ground. I look for Maia to pull off an impressive submission in the second round on the wrestler.

Heavyweight Bout – John Olav Einemo (7-1) vs. Dave Herman (20-2) – Einemo seems to be one dimensional and just strong with his submissions while Herman is an impressive striker and well-conditioned fighter. My pick is Herman to win by knockout in the third round.

Lightweight Bout – Donald Cerrone (14-3) vs. Vagner Rocha (6-1) – I think Cerrone should control this fight from start to finish. I don’t see him finishing Rocha, who is good at submission defense, but I do see Cerrone getting the decision win.