The former Arizona State University wrestler said he waited a split-second too long in front of Kongo and paid dearly. Those punches, which might have felled other men, were his lesson.
Velasquez, however, dug deep and clung to his game plan with a decision won on the mat.
Velasquez’s next opponent, Ben Rothwell at UFC 104, may be the perfect fighter to work towards the goal. Rothwell is a year older than him, but has 10 years of fights under his belt and heavy hands to boot.
He’s also more well-rounded, which Velasquez acknowledges as an added threat.
Velasquez’s trainer, Javier Mendez, doesn’t believe Rothwell is on the same level of striking ability as Kongo. But there’s still danger in getting the fight where Velasquez ultimately wants it – downstairs.
Getting there, says Velasquez, is a matter of setting it up correctly.
“I’m looking to set up a lot of stuff with my striking, just to make it easier to get the takedown, if it’s there, and if I make an opening for it,” he said.