Unrealistic Expectations Drive Criticism of Cain Velasquez

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11/13/11 7:16:39PM
It comes as no surprise that dethroned UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez was the victim of unrealistic expectations in the aftermath of his knockout loss to Junior dos Santos on Saturday night at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. After all, we've been spoiled by the impressive rise of the former champion, maintaining an unblemished record while destroying every opponent put in front of him. Surprisingly, Cheick Kongo was the only man to give Velasquez trouble on his climb to the summit, yet even in that fight, we could glean the thought that Velasquez has the mental fortitude to overcome anything.

In the lead-up to the fight, informed fans knew the dangers that awaited Velasquez inside the Octagon. Junior dos Santos was a devastating striker who was a far more technical boxer than Cheick Kongo. If Kongo could land combinations on Velasquez, what's to stop Dos Santos from finding a home for his powerful right hand?

During the post-fight coverage on Fox, however, UFC President Dana White's comments made it sound like this should have been an easy fight for Velasquez, suggesting that the former champion should have immediately worked for takedowns. Even UFC commentator Joe Rogan spoke of the questionable rational of Velasquez when he spoke with MMAFighting.com's Ariel Helwani after the fight. My question is when did it become so easy to just take fighters down?

Dana White wanted us to believe that it shouldn't take more than sixty-four seconds for a NCAA Division I wrestling champion who trains with world class wrestlers like Muhammed Lawal and Dan Cormier to take down the Brazilian striker. Forget about setting up the takedowns with strikes. Just come out and bullrush Dos Santos and take him down! Even the most credentialed wrestler can't do that when punches are involved.

Let's also not forget that Junior dos Santos has a history of being tough to take down. He hasn't been tested by a NCAA champion, but that's not what stands out in my opinion. Shane Carwin was supposed to challenge Dos Santos with his strength and better wrestling abilities, and like Velasquez -- Dos Santos used his footwork and movement to evade the pressure and batter his opponent from range. Furthermore, Dos Santos didn't pop off combinations that featured four or five punches. He limited his output in order to lessen Velasquez's window of opportunity.

It's unfair to criticize Velasquez after spending such a short time inside the Octagon. It isn't like Dos Santos was a layup win for Cain. He was the #1 contender for a reason, and he showed fans in his previous bouts that he has the crushing force in his punches to level anyone in a split second. How that got lost in the aftermath of this fight is beyond me. Instead of focusing on Dos Santos' triumph, we witnessed a rant about how Velasquez should have worked for the takedown immediately. Apparently more immediate than sixty-four seconds.

As fans, we tend to thrust unrealistic expectations onto many of the best fighters in the sport. I can handle the everyday arguments I have with casual fans. It's fun to argue with some level of ridiculousness from time to time. I can't, however, stand to watch gifted athletes like Cain Velasquez be thrown under the bus because expectations were high that he should take down a brilliant fighter like Junior dos Santos whenever he wants.

This isn't ten years ago when there were only a handful of fighters who possessed well-rounded skill-sets. This is the modern era, a time when nearly every fighter at the apex of a division has the skills to compete in any area of a fight. The new champion used his strengths to win, and Cain didn't have time to set up his takedowns and capitalize. It's as simple as that. Focus on the positives that Junior dos Santos displayed in victory, not the unrealistic expectations that Velasquez didn't meet.

11/13/11 8:21:53PM
I completely agree with this article and have lost all respect for Dana White. I really hope they keep him in his current position but completely ban him from being a public figure. Make the business deals, stop trying to be as popular as the fighters.
11/14/11 2:34:33AM
yea dana needs to tread lightly or hes gonna piss off all the people that got him where he's at in the sport..... the hardcore fans that have watched since the beginning. plus all that talk about cain being the perfect fighter was idiotic from both dana and rogan
11/14/11 3:24:25AM
Whomever wrote this article needs to do their research a little better. They said that Dos Santos hasn't been tested by an NCAA champion, Carwin WAS an NCAA champion.
11/14/11 9:37:14AM
Dana's ego is bigger than Brock Lesnars head.
11/14/11 9:37:54AM
Dos Santos kept a pretty distance between each other, and a takedown would have been from the outside. It would have been hard for any wrestler to take down Dos Santos
11/14/11 3:14:59PM
Well this article is silly and Dana is right...I dont understand it either and actually agree with Dana totally...and since his value "net worth " is probably worth more than the whole business that wrote this article I am happy to say I see in line with Dana...

Dana comes from boxing and knows the importance of a gameplan...thats whats keeping lots of fighters back from their potential...

Bader willing to trade...he wrestles
carwin willing to trade....he is better at wrstling
Rashad Evans wanting to trade..>See where that got him...

Basically if Cain is a wrestler he needs to wrestle...It was no secret going in that all he had to do really was clinch as much as possible in teh first and JDS loses a ton of power...but he wanted to trade like a fool...

As for the Carwin fight same thing..but I think carwin is pretty much done in fighting maybe one more fight...

Its really disappointing to me for fighters not to have the best gameplans...I think that is where Greg Jackson sees better than anyone in MMA..

If you think about it..>What does JDS have if you are in close with him...Hes got stand up and is rangy...I would seriously doubt he has any real skills on the ground because hes so big...He doesnt strike me as all that book smart either...

I like JDS but I actually love it better when guys get KTFO and lose for not being smart and utilizing their strengths...

oh and standing a trading punches with JDS for 1 minute is an eternity...Rule number one is to make opponent uncomfortable..>When Cain almost grabbed Dos Santos he should of kept on...Instead he fought the fight the way Dos Santos wanted...
11/14/11 3:26:58PM
Whats silly most about this is of course...Which I dont give much credence to but those that wanted Dos Santos to win give him all teh credit...I wanted Cain to win because he can beat Dos Santos...Now if I was like the majority when their fighter loses I could just say ring rust..Its been over a year and he could even jog with his shoulder injury...

Then the questions now he wanted to pull out because of a knee injury...Maybe he didnt have enough stregth to get the takedown...One things for sure Cain made no excuses and either do I...Except dont fight a guy standing with better stand up than you...

I bet we dont see GSP in a standup war with Diaz...And I actaully think teh GSP jab is brutal...but I am sure he wants to wrstle Diaz down...
11/14/11 8:53:34PM
I didn't expect Brock being more professional than Dana behind the camera...
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