Velasquez planning to put the hurt on Werdum

June 09, 2015 3:05 AM


Velasquez planning to put 'hurt' on WerdumThis coming Saturday night the Mexico City Arena in Mexico will play host to the long awaited return of UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez (13-1).

His opponent Fabricio Werdum (19-5-1) enters the Octagon with a UFC strap of his own, having captured the “interim title” while Velasquez was on the shelf for 18 months due to injury.

In fact, Velasquez makes his return after having suffered two knee injuries and shoulder surgery, raising the obvious question of whether he will be able to pick up where he left off…as one of the most dominant heavyweights in UFC history. Also, will fighting in Mexico put even more pressure on Velasquez?

According to oddsmakers, it’s very probable he’ll be just fine. Velasquez is currently listed as high as a -500 betting favorite to reclaim undisputed status, while the interim title holder Werdum is a +400 underdog.

Simply put there are very few, if any, holes in Cain’s fight game. He’s a former Division 1 college All-American wrestler who has also turned himself into an extremely dangerous striker. Velasquez has landed more than 6 strikes per minute on opponents, while defending 61%. He’s also averaged over 5 take-downs per 15 minutes, and successfully stopped 88% of take-down attempts.

Yet what’s most impressive about Velasquez, and ultimately his greatest asset, is his cardio. The champion fights at a frenetic pace for a heavyweight and that more than anything else has helped him take over the division.

Cain’s ability to dominate opponents in the clinch and wear them out has led to the majority of his stoppages. He may not appear to have one-punch knockout power like many heavyweights, but he makes up for it with sheer volume and tenacity.

For Werdum to have success, he’ll need to do damage from the outside and avoid fighting on the inside, or worse, being smothered up against the cage like so many before him. Like most Brazilian fighters, his submission game is world class. His resume includes submission wins against the likes of Fedor Emelianenko and arguably the division’s most accomplished BJJ practitioner, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Therefore opponents rarely attempt to take the fight to the ground against Werdum.

Lately even those who have been able to keep it standing haven’t found much success, even those who can change the outcome of a bout with one punch, like Travis Browne and Mark Hunt. The reason is because the interim title holder has come a long way with his striking when compared to early on in his career.

His best chance to become the undisputed heavyweight champion lies in his ability to use his improved Muay Thai to eventually get the fight to the ground. Let’s not forget it’s been 18 months since Velasquez has competed in the UFC and it remains to be seen whether or not his cardio is back to where it once was.

Werdum needs to be more relentless than usual and try to push the pace in order to test those waters, especially early on when both fighters aren’t as sweaty and it’s much easier to successfully lock on a submission.

Granted, when a fighter has been out as long as Velasquez has and he’s suffered those types of injuries, we as bettors must be cautious. Personally, to justify laying 500 on a fighter I would need to confidently conclude the chances of cashing my wager will exceed 85%. I just can’t do that this time around.

Though the majority of so called “experts” will be predicting a Velasquez victory, I highly doubt many will be backing up that opinion with cold hard cash.

I most likely will not be backing up my own opinion with money on this fight and therefore I wouldn’t urge anyone else to do so. If I find myself in need of some action on this bout, I’ll be looking to back the dog at the generous take-back.

Wilder returns

Deontay Wilder (33-0, 32 KO’s) makes the first defense of his newly acquired WBC Heavyweight title against the relatively unknown Eric Molina (23-2, 17 KO’s). The challenger may best be remembered for being knocked out in the very first round by Chris Arreola back in 2012.

Wilder comes into this bout off an impressive unanimous decision win over Bermane Stiverne in January, and should get past Molina rather easily.

Now I’m sure most boxing fans would much rather see Wilder in against tougher competition, myself included, but this is nothing new in the sport. We’ve seen plenty of world champions elect an easy out in their first defense or take on a “mandatory” who offers very little risk.

Since he’s the first American to win a world heavyweight title in more than 9 years, we’ll give him a pass this time around.

Vegas-Runner is a professional bettor/handicapper featured on CNBC, ESPN, FOX, Yahoo, CBS This Morning, The Herd, JT the Brick, & More. Follow VR on Twitter @vegasrunnerand at the home of the Animals, Contact Vegas Runner at