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UFC 121: Lesnar vs. Velasquez Preview
Written by Zachary Fenell   
Sunday, 17 October 2010 07:37

Anaheim, California will be buzzing with the big fight atmosphere on Saturday evening, October 23rd, as the Honda Center hosts UFC 121, headlined by the undefeated phenomenon Cain Velasquez challenging dominant force and UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar. Additionally, welterweight Jake Shields will co-headline UFC 121, making his much anticipated UFC debut against Martin Kampmann. The two fights alone look to make UFC 121 the talk of the MMA world.

The Brock Lesnar versus Cain Velasquez fight gives off a larger-than-life vibe. Lesnar has proven to the MMA world he deserves his nickname, “The Baddest Man on the Planet.” Excluding his first UFC fight where he lost to Frank Mir, Lesnar has proven unstoppable, garnering five straight wins. During this time Lesnar knocked off some of UFC’s top names, including Randy Couture and Shane Carwin. The victory over Carwin proved especially impressive considering the situation going into the fight. UFC 116, the event where Lesnar-Carwin occurred, served as Lesnar’s first fight in over a year after a serious illness sidelined him. An early beating in the first round from Carwin left Lesnar looking worse-for-ware. Yet, Lesnar showed under his thick layers of muscles is heart, not giving up and successfully defending his UFC Heavyweight Championship.

However, if anyone can stop Lesnar, Velasquez can. Velasquez has quickly made a name for himself, taking UFC by storm with an 8-0 record. Velasquez will only be the 20th fighter in UFC’s 17 year history to challenge for a UFC championship after competing in less than 10 professional fights. Out of the 19 previous fighters just four have left the Octagon champion. Still, those four fighters have all been competing for the UFC Heavyweight Championship.

Lesnar and Velasquez both look to leave a mark in UFC’s history books with a victory at UFC 121. A successful title defense for Lesnar would put Lesnar’s name next to Tim Sylvia as the only other fighter to successfully defend the UFC Heavyweight Title three times. Additionally, a victory for Lesnar would set the record for the most consecutive successful title defenses. A victory for Velasquez would make Velasquez the first Mexican to ever win the UFC Heavyweight Championship. Velasquez demonstrates his pride for his Mexican heritage by wearing t-shirts exhibiting the colors of the Mexican flag- green, white, and red.

Inside the Octagon Lesnar and Velasquez possess similar styles, each showing their strengths with takedowns. The similarities between the two fighters extend to their histories. In college both earned All American honors for wrestling. Lesnar received the All American honor four times wrestling for the University of Minnesota, while Velasquez earned the All American honor twice when attending Arizona State University. With takedowns likely to play a significant role in the fight, Lesnar’s size advantage could benefit the champion. Lesnar stands in two inches taller than Velasquez and weighs 25lbs more. Velasquez will need to use his speed to make the size difference a non-factor. On an emotional level, Velasquez potentially holds a home field advantage. Velasquez lives near Anaheim, leaving him to likely have more supporters in the audience. 

Jake Shields’ long awaited UFC debut will give the crowd at the Honda Center an energy boost. Shields’ 25-4-1 MMA record has made him an international sensation and has left MMA fans wondering if Shields has the talents needed to cement his name amongst the greats in the UFC. Shields has already proven he can defeat UFC caliber talent when he defeated UFC veteran Dan Henderson in a bout under the Strikeforce banner. Martin Kampmann, nicknamed “the Hitman,” will serve as another test of Shields’ abilities. Kampmann, at 17-3, will prove no easy test. In the past four years only two UFC competitors have defeated Kampmann. Additionally, Kampmann comes into UFC 121 on a two bout winning streak. Shields, a well rounded MMA competitor, will need to avoid Kampmann’s submissions, which have acted as the foundation for Kampmann’s successful MMA career.

The rest of UFC 121’s fight card looks like this-

Diego Sanchez vs. Paulo Thiago
Tito Ortiz vs. Matt Hamill
Brendan Schaub vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
Court McGee vs. Ryan Jensen
Patrick Cote vs. Tom Lawlor
Mike Guymon vs. Daniel Roberts
Sam Stout vs. Paul Taylor
Chris Camozzi vs. Dongi Yang
Jon Madsen vs. Gilbert Yvel

Tito Ortiz versus Matt Hamill has an interesting teacher versus student dynamic. Ortiz, nicknamed “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy,” served as Hamill’s coach during season three of The Ultimate Fighter. Hamill, nicknamed “The Hammer,” has put a hammer to UFC’s light heavyweight division recently and will ride a four fight win streak into UFC 121Ortiz has recently recovered from some injuries and looks to show while he taught his student well, the teacher still is better. Submission could serve as the key to victory for Ortiz. While Ortiz’s arsenal doesn’t contain many submissions, a complete absence of submissions from Hamill’s arsenal could make submissions a wild card in the fight.

Overall, UFC 121 will provide answers to questions lingering inside the heads of MMA fans. Whose better, the student or teacher, Matt Hamill or Tito Ortiz? Does Jake Shields have the skills to etch his name next to the greats from the UFC? Will Cain Velasquez do what serious illness couldn’t do, stop Brock Lesnar’s dominance? Or, will Lesnar do what no other man has been able to do so far, serve Velasquez his first loss? Tickets for this epic event can still be purchased from Ticketmaster. Prices vary from $75 to $500. UFC 121 will also be available on PPV and at select movie theaters, including over 45 theaters located across California.    


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