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MMA Roundtable: Beyond trilogy for Cain & JDS, Glover or Gustafsson, and forced retirement

On this week’s MMA Roundtable, we’re looking into the future. Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos are set for their third fight, but are a fourth and maybe even a fifth in their futures? Also, while Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson seem hellbent on fighting each other, we wonder if Glover Teixeira is a more dangerous matchup for the light-heavyweight champ. Finally, we analyze T.J. Grant’s chances of unseating lightweight champion Benson Henderson, and ponder whether Dana White is doing the right thing by pressuring aging fighters to retire. My west coast colleague Shaun Al-Shatti joins me at the roundtable to ponder all of these burning questions. And away we go …1. Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos are set for their rubber match. Is it inevitable these guys fight four or five times?Al-Shatti: It certainly seems like it. At 30 and 29 years old, respectively, Velasquez and dos Santos are both occupying their fighting prime and could conceivably do so for the next several years. Both guys have clearly distinguished themselves as the No. 1 and No. 2 heavyweights in the world, and honestly, given the thinness of the division, it may not even be close. So the cards definitely seemed to be aligned for a historic rivalry.I spoke to Velasquez about the idea prior to the second Bigfoot fight. He seemed convinced that if he ruined dos Santos a second time, just like he did at UFC 155, the topic would become null and void. I question if he has a point though. Due to the inversely lopsided nature of both meetings between the two goliaths — one a 64-second stunner and the other a 25-minute sustained beating — it‘s true that any potential fourth or fifth match-up largely depends on the manner in which the rubber match is settled. Though, even if it‘s another rout, I‘m not sure Velasquez‘s assumption is realistic.If dos Santos, or especially Velasquez, falls behind on the scoreboard by a 1-to-2 mark, and then keeps knocking off contender after contender, it‘s hard to see how the UFC could possibly deny them another attempt to even the score. Rivalries are big business in the fight game, plus that’s a built-in backstory — two foes linked in revenge throughout their careers. The pay-per-views would sell themselves.Truthfully, there‘s only one thing I could see standing in the way of this game of one-upmanship, and that‘s if/when Jon Jones decides to try his hand at heavyweight. Until then, the division is these two‘s playground. Chiappetta: For all of the reasons that Shaun stated, it seems obvious that it’s going to happen, but will it really? There hasn’t been any other UFC rivalry that’s gone past three fights. Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture didn’t, and neither did Matt Hughes vs. Georges St-Pierre or even Tim Sylvia vs. Andrei Arlovski when the heavyweight division was thinner than a fashion week model. The biggest reason to believe it will happen is the compressed time frame for the first three. Dana White said the third fight would happen by the end of this year, which means they will have fought three times in two years. Given that Velasquez is 30 and dos Santos is 29, the two still have a few years left in their respective primes. So, who will wedge their way in between them? As I wrote on Sunday, after watching both blow away their opposition, it’s obvious they are the division’s elite, and no one else is close. I believe that Daniel Cormier could have crashed the party, if only he didn’t have a sense of loyalty to Velasquez. And as Shaun notes, Jon Jones may also have a say if and when he decides he’s ready to move into the shark tank. The rest of the division is fighting for table scraps.If the third Velasquez-dos Santos fight is more competitive than the first two, that only makes a fourth fight more likely. At the end of the day, as long as fans see value in the rivalry, it will continue. It doesn’t hurt that the fight-loving Brazilian and Mexican fans are along for the ride.2. Glover Teixeira continues to build himself as a title contender, but over the weekend, we saw Alexander Gustafsson and Jon Jones attempt to build their title fight while in Russia. Which fighter has a better chance of beating Jones: Gustafsson or Teixeira?Chiappetta: Both fighters can make a strong case for their candidacy as a top contender, although Gustafsson has the edge by virtue of his seniority in the division, along with more significant wins over Mauricio Shogun Rua and Thiago Silva.However, when it comes down to which man has the best set of tools to give Jones a run for his money, I would have to say it’s Teixeira. While Gustafsson has shored up his wrestling game in the days since his loss to Phil Davis, he can’t match Teixeira’s offensive or defensive wrestling. That’s going to be a big key against Jones, who mixes things up as well as anyone in the division right now. Case in point, Saturday when he wanted to knock out James Te Huna in front of his idol Mike Tyson, but settled for a takedown an…

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