It took just a few seconds after seeing Cain Velasquez knockout MMA legend Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera this weekend to realize what UFC had on their hands. I quickly posted it up on my personal Twitter account (@Doron_B), that UFC was going to make a boatload of money from this fight someday soon.
We all know the story on Brock Lesnar - the former pro wrestler who has turned into the UFC's top superstar and Heavyweight Champion, who plays the villain role better than anyone in sports. Lesnar has managed to make pretty much everyone hate him, from MMA purists, to pro wrestling fans that followed him over, to Canadians who's healthcare system he despises, to casual UFC fans outraged by his crude and outlandish statements. Unfortunately for them, but fortunate for the UFC brass, Lesnar has dominated the competition and vaulted to the top of the rankings, grabbing the Heavyweight title in the process.
Cain Velasquez - he's pretty dominant too. Now undefeated, with 8 wins, Cain took himself from prospect status to true stardom with his win over Noguiera on Saturday. It was a pretty dominant win, he simply outslugged the MMA icon for much of the first round before knocking him out. After the fight, Velasquez, as is common, spoke to Joe Rogan, and came off like a complete opposite of Brock. He was soft-spoken, humble and complimentary. He was the perfect guy for UFC to build a campaign around. He's the anti-Brock Lesnar, the guy UFC can portray as the an MMA-prodigy, with the typical skills MMA fans respect, that can come in and have a great shot at knocking Brock Lesnar out.
Unfortunately, Velasquez is not next in line for a title shot. That's been offered up to the winner of a March fight between Frank Mir and Shane Carwin. Carwin, while another dominant fighter, doesn't quite have the personality to make for a hugely compelling fight against Lesnar. Should Mir win the fight, he'd battle Lesnar in a rubber match. They've fought twice before, with each winning once. Mir's win however, was against an inexperienced Lesnar is his first UFC fight. Lesnar's, on the other hand, was a pretty dominant victory at UFC 100. A third fight certainly has potential to draw big, based mostly off the personalities of the two, but it would be tough to get a huge draw out of a third fight.
While you'd never wish injury on anyone, it may be convenient for UFC if the Mir/Carwin winner is just a bit banged and bruised, giving UFC a chance to give Velasquez to slide right into the Lesnar title shot in the summer. UFC's got a chance for a massive buyrate when the two meetup, but as we've learned in MMA, you have to take the bird in the hand when you have a chance.