Everyone talks about pressure heading into a fight.
Even more people talk about pressure when talking about a title fight.
So what kind of pressure mounts on the participants in a fight that’s being hailed as the most important match-up in UFC history?
For UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and challenger Junior dos Santos, the magnitude of their fight this Saturday night as the debut show for the promotion’s new deal with Fox continues to mount.
It’s no secret that the UFC is putting a lot of eggs into one basket hoping UFC on Fox 1 is a launching pad in a seven-year deal for the organization to be a showcase sport on the television network. At the end of the day, however, Velasquez and dos Santos are the ones that have to go out and fight, and hopefully put on a bout that will define who truly is the best heavyweight in all of mixed martial arts.
For Velasquez this fight not only marks his chance to become one of the biggest stars in mixed martial arts, but it’s also his first fight in over a year. Velasquez has been on the sidelines for several months after having shoulder surgery.
But despite the long layoff and obvious pressure going along with the UFC on Fox debut, Velasquez is approaching this like any other contest he’s had in the past. With a 9-0 record, 8 finishes, and a UFC heavyweight title around his waist, it’s obviously been working pretty well so far.
“There’s always butterflies when you have a fight. It is natural to feel nervous, it means you are ready,” Velasquez said recently. “But I’m not more nervous because I’ve been out (hurt) for more than a year. I know from my training camp I’m 100-percent and ready to go. I was 100-percent in July.”
There were a lot of fights the UFC could have chosen for the debut show on Fox. Stars like Georges St-Pierre or Anderson Silva could have got the call, but the UFC put their faith in the heavyweight title fight between Velasquez and dos Santos.
Velasquez is proud and happy that the UFC offered him this chance, and he plans on showing why it was a smart choice when he steps in the cage on Saturday night.
“I’m excited and it is a great honor to have this fight chosen by the UFC to be the first one on Fox,” said Velasquez. “But I am not focused on the event, the hype or the (expected large TV audience), like any other fight I am focused on my opponent and not much else.”
Throughout his career, Velasquez has always been somewhat soft spoken outside the cage, but unleashes an absolute beast when the Octagon door closes.
When speaking about Junior Dos Santos, there’s not an ounce of cockiness or bravado in anything Velasquez says. He stays humble and respectful, at least until he gets the chance to punch his opponent in the face.
“dos Santos is a great opponent. He’s very dangerous,” said Velasquez. “There’s not any area he lacks in, he’s going to be tough in all areas. That’s what we expect from him.”
The previews on Fox called Velasquez “the baddest man on the planet.” On Saturday night, he gets his chance to prove it.