In boxing, greatness comes from great rivalry.
Without Joe Frazier, Ali never would have been the most famous man in the world. Decades after both had retired, Frazier said of his so diminished rival, “I want to cut him into pieces and send him up to Jesus.” And he meant it. That was a rivalry.
Take Arturo Gatti from Micky Ward, and Mark Wahlberg wouldn't have played "Irish" in "The Fighter" which earned seven Academy Award nominations. Take Tommy Hearns from Ray Leonard, or Sugar from The Hitman, and neither would be one of the truly greats.
Some extraordinary fighters never had that rival, and so never quite reached immortal fame. Oscar de la Hoya will never be confused with Oscar de la Renta, but he never had that great rival that could elevate him to the pugilistic pantheon. Roy Jones Jr may be the greatest talent of the last 50 years, but it never quite came out. When Roy Jones corruptly lost the Olympic gold medal, post fight he said "You saw what God gave me." But we never quite did.
The history of the UFC heavyweight division is a curious one - no champion has ever defended his title three times. In fact, only Randy Couture, Tim Sylvia and Brock Lesnar have defended the title twice.
Lightweight has BJ Penn, Welterweight has GSP and Matt Hughes, Middleweight has Anderson Silva, Light heavyweight has Jon Jones, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, and Tito Ortiz. But heavyweight has never had a great, division-defining rivalry and champion. It may now.
In an appearance on MMA Junkie Radio following the loss of his title in a rematch with Cain Velasquez, Junior Dos Santos saw the future.
"II won a fight. He won the other one," said JDS. "Now we have to have the third fight, the rematch. I'm sure everybody wants to know who is the real best. For now, he is the best, but I know people will want to see this fight again, and I can't wait."
"For sure, I think we can be like Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier and all those guys; I really think we can have a lot of fights... My development is getting better every day. I think Cain Velasquez and me are going to have great fights for the fans."
As reported by Kevin Iole, JDS now believes that fighting Cain Velasquez is his defining destiny, and that they will fight five times, or more. #3 is in the works.
Saturday night at UFC 160, heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez knocked out Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva, and Junior Dos Santos knocked out Mark Hunt with a spin kick to head, setting up a rubber match between the pair, and a path to greatness.
At the UFC 160 post fight press conference, UFC president Dana White announced that Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos would fight in 2013. Although he did not set a date, he indicated it would happen before the promotion's year-end show.
So what do you think UG? Who wins the rematch? And what does it take to be one of the greats?