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This time, UFC's Cain Velasquez aims for lengthier title run

March 22, 2013|By Lance Pugmire
  • UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez works out.
UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez works out. (Thearon W. Henderson / Getty…)

Cain Velasquez envisioned a lengthy reign as Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight titlist after first taking the belt in October 2010.

It didn’t work out that way. An injury followed just over a year later, with his first title defense ending in 64 seconds, via a knockout loss to Junior Dos Santos.

There’s something to be said about never knowing what you’ve got until it’s gone. In a December rematch, Velasquez  dominated Dos Santos to reclaim the title. Now, at 30, the San Jose fighter is determined to keep the belt for a long while.

Tickets for Velasquez’s second first defense, May 25 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, went on sale Friday, priced from $75 to $800.

“It’s about not getting away from the game plan,” Velasquez told The Times on Friday in a telephone interview. “If I go in and execute, pressure my opponent, look for takedowns and openings to hit, I don’t think I can lose.”

Those feelings of confidence are amplified by the fact Velasquez dominated Silva only a year ago, taking down the 6-foot-4, 265-pound behemoth and pounding him into a bloody mess before the fight was stopped in the first round.

Silva (18-4) was the backup plan for a title shot after Dos Santos was thoroughly roughed up and Alistair Overeem, the expected title contender, made the mistake of dismissing Silva’s punching power before losing to him by third-round knockout in December.

“I can’t look past him, either,” Velasquez said. “Overeem didn’t give him any respect and paid the price. This is a whole new fight, and I think that it’ll be a dangerous fight.

“He’ll be more aggressive, try more to stay on his feet. I have to be cautious of his power. It’s important for me to be quick on my feet. That’s our goal: to make sure I’m always moving and that it doesn’t turn into a slugfest.”

Velasquez (11-1) again turned to his focus on sticking to the fight plan.

“There was so much on the line last fight” against Dos Santos, “I had to be pinpoint on it,” he said. “There’s always distractions to what we do: training, in the ring walk, getting in the octagon. But you have to just keep thinking about how you want to fight.”

The UFC rewarded Velasquez recently, giving him a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle valued at about $20,000 for beating Dos Santos.

While his fight contract forbids him from engaging in dangerous activities until after fight night, Velasquez has a plan.

Defend his title, leap on his motorcycle and ride off into a Memorial Day weekend desert sunset -- until next time.

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