Cain Velasquez (11-1) vs. Antonio Silva (18-4)
Sportsbook.ag Line: Velasquez -850, Silva +550
Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva will get a second chance at heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez when the two headline UFC 160’s main card Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Silva and Velasquez fought last May, a first-round TKO for Velasquez who used a barrage of punches to end the fight after just 3:36. Velasquez was not the heavyweight champ at the time, however, reclaiming the belt in his next fight on Dec. 29 against Junior Dos Santos, to whom he had lost it in the fight before the Silva bout. Silva has won twice since losing to Velasquez, earning knockouts against top fighters in Travis Browne and Alistair Overeem. There’s no doubting at this point that that Velasquez is easily the world’s top heavyweight, but the action has been too heavy on him thus far. Silva looked extremely competent in his two most recent wins and has the power to do exactly what Velasquez did to him the first time around.
Velasquez’s only career loss was the one to Dos Santos, which he avenged with a unanimous decision. Winning via decision is rare for him, however. Nine of his 11 career wins are knockouts with just two decisions to his name and no submissions. At 6-foot-1 and 240 pounds, he cedes three inches and 25 pounds to Silva. But he makes up for that with his quickness and well-rounded skill set. Most of the 30-year-old Velazquez’s wins, though, come from his fists which have unparalleled power. He’ll look to do the same thing he did against Silva a year ago by coming out aggressive and never allowing him to get into a rhythm.
Silva’s ticket to an upset will be replicating Dos Santos’ recipe for giving Velasquez his only loss. Velasquez went down 1:04 into that fight with a knockout via punches, something the 33-year-old Brazilian has the talent to do. Thirteen of Silva’s 18 career wins are knockouts, including his past four wins. The majority of those knockouts have come from his powerful punches. Silva is surprisingly agile despite his “Bigfoot” frame and he’ll have to show that to avoid the same early onslaught he fell victim to last time.
Junior Dos Santos (15-2) vs. Mark Hunt (9-7)
Sportsbook.ag Line: Dos Santos -400, Hunt +300
Coming off his first career loss and relinquishing the heavyweight title, Junior Dos Santos returns to the Octagon Saturday to face Mark Hunt on the main card of UFC 160.
At UFC 155 on Dec. 29, Dos Santos lost the belt to Cain Velasquez, who is putting his title on the line to headline this card. Dos Santos is the only person to ever record a win against Velasquez, however, beating the champ and taking the title in 2011. He successfully defended it once, against Frank Mir last May. Hunt has always been powerful and is now just finding his groove. After six consecutive losses in the middle of his career, he has now won four straight, all in UFC. Three of those have been knockouts, all a result of his deadly punches. It will be tough to do that against Dos Santos, however, a talented defender who has never been knocked out in his career.
Vertically, Hunt is as small as they come in the heavyweight division, standing at just 5-foot-10. That’s six inches shorter than dos Santos. But that doesn’t mean “Super Samoan” lacks strength—he weighs 265 pounds, 27 more than his foe. And despite the huge height difference, Hunt’s reach of 74 inches is just three shorter than Dos Santos’. A kick boxer and a boxer, the 39-year-old can adapt to different fighting styles and try to land his one big flurry of blows. He likely won’t win a decision battle here, but he always has the potential for a knockout victory. <P>
The 29-year-old Dos Santos is as experienced as they come in UFC, now 8-1 in his nine bouts. That includes wins against a number of top heavyweights: Velasquez, Mir, Roy Nelson, Mirko Cro Cop, Stefan Struve and Fabricio Werdum. An elite boxer, strikes make up the great majority of the Brazilian’s attack, and given the height differential he should be more than happy to engage Hunt in a boxing match. Though “Cigano” (which means “Gypsy” in his native Portuguese language) has never lost via knockout, he has 11 career wins that way, adding two submissions and two decisions. Dos Santos KO’ed Velasquez just 1:04 into their bout, and that’s the type of skill that should earn him the win in this one.
Glover Teixeira (20-2) vs. James Te Huna (18-5)
Sportsbook.ag Line: Teixeira -300, Te Huna +240
Glover Teixeira will put his 18-fight winning streak on the line Saturday night on UFC 160’s main card against James Te Huna in a light heavyweight bout.
For much of his winning streak, Teixeira has romped through lower-level circuits before making the leap to UFC. He is now 3-0 in UFC, including his most recent win, a unanimous decision win against Rampage Jackson on Jan. 26. Te Huna is also riding a win streak with four consecutive victories, putting him at 5-1 in UFC-promoted tilts. Both fighters carry the same height (6-foot-2) and weight (205 lbs.) into this fight. Though Te Huna has not taken on the same class of fighter as Teixeira has, he has shown endurance and skills that should give bettors confidence in him as an underdog. He has both the potential earn a knockout or grind out a fight and take it to the judges.
Beating Jackson gave Teixeira some credibility, though it should be noted Jackson is certainly in the twilight of his career, losing his last three fights. Prior to that, Teixeira earned solid wins against Fabio Maldonado and Kyle Kingsbury. He’s a good boxer and wrestler, but Jiu-Jitsu also figures into his attacking style. So, the 33-year-old Brazilian likes to end fights early with 12 knockouts and five submissions in his career to go along with three decisions. Four of Te Huna’s five career losses have been via submission, so Teixeira can definitely grapple his way to a victory here.
Te Huna showed his resilience in his last fight on Feb. 16, a unanimous decision victory against Ryan Jimmo. Though he was on the ropes in the first round after a tough kick, he dominated rounds two and three. His previous win, a unanimous decision against Joey Beltran, showed similar grit. After a slow start and breaking a handful of bones, he toughed it out and took control to curry the judges’ votes. Though those two fights were submissions, he also has 10 career knockouts and three submissions. Without a win against a top-notch fighter, the 31-year-old New Zealander is understandably an underdog, but he can certainly ground-and-pound his way to an upset here.