LAS VEGAS - On a UFC 155 main card featuring fighters with 116 combined UFC fights and 30 post-fight bonuses, incoming champion Junior dos Santos and former champion-turned-recrowned champion Cain Velasquez showed why the heavyweight division still reigns supreme, as they put on an athletic, exciting bout between giants at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night. Velasquez’ endless cardio and wrestling prowess put the champion in more danger in the first round than he’d seen in his entire UFC career, and Velasquez followed that with four more rounds of domination, winning back the belt he’d surrendered to dos Santos in just 64 seconds last November.
Velasquez chased dos Santos early in the first, diving several times for single-leg takedowns that the Brazilian merely stepped away from. But mid-round, Velasquez hit dos Santos clean with a right, dropping him, then following things to the mat with hammerfists. That blow changed the entire momentum of the fight. From there, Velasquez completed his takedown (then another, then another). With dos Santos trapped in half-guard or against the fence, Velasquez rained down punches from on top and behind.
Velasquez continued his onslaught forward in round two, as he grabbed dos Santos, slammed him down and took his back. After spinning out of a kneebar, Velasquez wound up with back mount, and got another takedown when dos Santos stood. Dos Santos repeatedly sought recovery time on the fence, but each time, Velasquez’ shots took him off-center enough to score takedown after takedown. Dos Santos wound turtle or recover in half guard, taking punishment before powering to his feet. Late in the second it was Velasquez who sought an armbar on the BJJ brown belt.
Dos Santos seemed to have recovered a by the third, as he landed bodyshots, jabs and uppercuts on Velasquez. But Velasquez still scored a single-leg on the tired champion, and issued more nasty blows against the fence. Dos Santos shook off the next few takedown attempts, but still struggled to mount an effective offense against Velasquez’ forward motion. Each time the challenger pressured dos Santos against the fence, Velasquez would attack.
The deep water rounds were more of the same – dos Santos having mixed success defending takedowns, but still losing the stand-up exchanges and moving backward. Velasquez punctuated the last frame with a huge takedown and a head kick. Judges’ scores were 50-45, 50-43 and 50-44 for Velasquez, whose return to glory ups his numbers to 11-1. The durable dos Santos was handed only the second loss of his career, slipping to 15-2.
“I knew that Junior was a tough striker and he was able to end our last fight that way, so I was prepared for him this time," said Cain. "I was able to use my striking and my grappling to control him and get the title back.”
“Velasquez is a tough opponent," said the always-gracious dos Santos. "His grappling is great and tonight his striking was great as well. Congratulations to him on his victory.” Before leaving the Octagon, dos Santos vowed to face Velasquez again to do as the new champion had just done and regain the belt.
Crown Pride - Cain Regains Heavyweight Title: UFC 155 Main Event Results
By Laura Gilbert December 29, 2012