Cain Velasquez had his detractors after recently revealing that he was suffering from a knee injury in his first fight with Junior Dos Santos, an ill-fated meeting for the Mexican-American that saw him knocked out in just 64 seconds and removed of the heavyweight title in the process.
When the rematch was announced, there was also talk of Velasquez being scared to stand with Dos Santos. Almost everyone had Velasquez frantically scrambling for takedowns and backing off in fear of Dos Santos’ heavy hands.
Well, the scrambling part was right. But in all other ways, most of the pundits could not have been more wrong. Over the course of five rounds, Velasquez not only freely stood with Dos Santos, he absolutely battered him from pillar to post. In the first round scored early takedowns via diving for singles, forcing the champion to backpedal around the octagon. Unable to set his feet, much of Dos Santo’s offensive game was taken away and he had no deterents to offer as Velasquez swarmed him.
Velasquez’s sheer pace is remarkable for a fighter in any weight class, much less the heavyweight division. As he variously took Dos Santos down, body kicked him and then dropped him all in the first round, you could see the champion deflating. In the interval before the second round he looked tired and shortly before the third he looked ruined.
Velasquez on the other hand was having a great time and hardly looked ruffled. The apparent disdain he had for Dos Santos was absolutely remarkable considering the knockout Dos Santos had inflicted on him in their previous meeting. It is a sign of real confidence to overcome the psychological residue of a knockout light that.
Overall, the fight was entirely Velasquez’s and it didn’t even look like hard work for him. He looked like a veteran dominating a spar. Over the course of the fight he mixed his martial arts well, interchanging takedowns with body kicks, right hands and leg kicks, whipping up a storm of problems for the beleaguered champion.
The scores told the story - all three judges gave all five rounds to Velasquez and there was more than one 10-8 round (50-45, 50-44, 50-43). He emerged from the fight with a small cut and a shiny UFC belt. Dos Santos looked like he had been in a car crash, or like his head had been replaced with a grotesquely oversized potato. People said Velasquez didn’t want this rematch - will Dos Santos ever want one down the line? How is he ever going to evolve to deal with a wrestling game as fundamentally sound as Cain’s?
As long as Velasquez remains champion, Dos Santos is finished as a contender. And so too is Alistair Overeem. The Dutchman’s much-vaunted striking isn’t going to stop Velasquez doing the same to him as what he has done to Dos Santos. He was always talked of as one of the most natural talents the UFC ever signed and today he lived up to that hype. Cain Velasquez is rightly the UFC heavyweight champion.
Jim Miller vs. Joe Lauzon
Two of the best submission specialists in the UFC so naturally, this turned into a scrappy bloodbath. It was in fact one of the bloodiest fights in recent UFC history and the first part resembled a hardcore Muay Thai match. Round one saw Miller employ some superb cross- and uppercut-elbow striking, including a three-hit combo that cut Lauzon’s face right open.
It was cleaned up in the interval but then in round two Miller opened it right up again for him again. Lauzon spent most of the round on his back and it was reminiscent of Struve/Stojnic or Penn/Stevenson in terms of horror-show bloodletting. Nonetheless he managed to get back into the round and finish in a good position to go into the final frame.
That final frame proved to be a real scrap, with Lauzon making serious efforts to damage Miller and steal the points back. But Miller was able to keep putting his combinations together and stay ahead, leading to a decision win at the end. “Joe Lauzon is one of the toughest guys in the world,” he told the crowd afterwards, shaking his head in admiration.
Main Card Bouts (Live on PPV, 10:00 PM ET)
-Cain Velasquez defeated Junior dos Santos by Unanimous Decision (50-45, 50-43, 50-44)
-Jim Miller defeated Joe Lauzon by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
-Costa Philippou defeated Tim Boetsch by TKO (Strikes, 2:11, 3rd Round)
-Yushin Okami defeated Alan Belcher by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
-Derek Brunson defeated Chris Leban by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28,29-28)