Velasquez to stand with dos Santos

Updated: December 10, 2010, 8:48 PM ET
By Franklin McNeil | ESPN.com

Junior Dos SantosJosh Hedges/Getty ImagesIt's never a good idea to strike with a striker like Junior dos Santos.

MONTREAL -- If anyone were to say that UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez will stand toe-to-toe with Junior dos Santos, they would not be taken seriously.

That's anyone other than the champ.

Velasquez (9-0-0) was very serious Friday when saying he expects to exchange strikes with the top-ranked contender.

"Dos Santos is the best striker in the UFC heavyweight division right now," Velasquez said during a Q&A session at Bell Centre. "But I expect to fight everywhere with him -- on the feet and wrestle with him on the ground.

"I expect to go all aspects of MMA with him."

Velasquez, who registered a first-round TKO of Brock Lesnar on Oct. 23 to win the title, will make the first defense of his belt against dos Santos. No date has been set for the bout.

To hear Velasquez express his plan to strike with dos Santos (12-1-0) comes as somewhat of a surprise. His struggles standing with Cheick Kongo in June 2009 remains fresh in the minds of most observers.

Kongo staggered Velasquez on several occasions during the bout.

But each time it appeared Velasquez would be stopped, he took Kongo to the ground and controlled him. Velasquez would go on to win that fight by unanimous decision.

In his next two bouts, Velasquez faced guys known to have good striking skills -- Ben Rothwell and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Velasquez would stop each of them on strikes.

His first-round stoppage of Nogueira, who has above-average boxing skills for a mixed martial artist, earned him "KO of the Night" honors at UFC 110 in February.

Velasquez credits struggling against Kongo with helping him improve his striking game.

"I've made improvements," Velasquez said. "I looked back at that fight [with Kongo] and saw my mistakes and said, 'I can't make those mistakes again in my next fight.'

"I do have confidence now that I can stand with anybody and just mix it up."