Former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez walked into the MGM Grand arena to a chorus of boos but departed with a chorus of cheers as he bulldozed past Brazil’s Junior Dos Santos to regain the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight title by unanimous decision on Saturday.
Ironically, it was Dos Santos who heard the boos this time.
“It feels good,” said Velasquez.
It was sweet revenge for Velasquez (11-1) who dominated Dos Santos (15-2) in almost every aspect of the mixed martial arts title fight in UFC 155. The building was filled to the top to see if the Mexican-American fighter could avenge his knockout loss to Dos Santos.
Velasquez promised to return to his strength and immediately set forth in the first round by pressuring Dos Santos relentlessly with attempted take downs. Suddenly, an overhand right dropped Dos Santos, who was definitely hurt. From that point on Velasquez dominated the rest of the five rounds.
“He’s a tough dude, you know what I mean,” said Velasquez. “The overhand right I learned from my pops.”
It didn’t look good for Dos Santos, who was taken down repeatedly with ease by the Mexican-American. Velasquez pounded and pounded the Brazilian who looked ready to be knocked out but stayed in the fight. Round two was a huge round for Velasquez, but Dos Santos survived.
“The punch was very ok. It’s very usual for me to take a punch,” said Dos Santos of absorbing big blows from Velasquez. “His take downs and his grappling game is very effective.”
The third round saw Dos Santos look a little more feisty in the beginning, but the constant pressure by Velasquez tired out the Brazilian again as he punched and punched with little in return.
Dos Santos had his best round in the fourth with some elbow shots and right hands. But Velasquez was a different fighter this time around, he muscled his way past the blows and took down Dos Santos again. A left to the body seemed to affect the Brazilian, who tried his best to rally.
In the final round a left to the body by Dos Santos looked promising but Velasquez took down the Brazilian again. A ground and pound attack ensued and when Dos Santos got back up, he was met with a right kick to the head followed by a long right cross. All three judges scored it for Velasquez, 50-45, 50-43, 50-44.
“This fight was the hardest fight I’ve been through,” said Velasquez. “All my coaches helped me so much.”
After the fight Dos Santos was surprised to hear boos but congratulated the new champion.
“His game is very fast. Tonight he was better than me,” said Dos Santos. “I’m going to come back and I’m going to take my belt again.”
It was a match that looked great on paper, putting Jim Miller (22-4) against Joe Lauzon (22-8). In the Octagon it was even better than that. New Jersey’s Miller jumped to an early and bloody lead against Boston’s Lauzon behind some pounding left and right hand shots. It looked bad for Lauzon.
Miller returned to pounding the bloodied Lauzon in round two but made a critical mistake by taking the fight to the ground. Lauzon took advantage and was able to turn the momentum. But both fighters and the floor were so bloody neither was able to gain a submission hold.
Not wanting to repeat his mistake, Miller kept the fight standing up and peppered Lauzon with shots for nearly five minutes. Then, suddenly, Lauzon attempted a submission hold with a heel hook but failed. He then tried a guillotine choke and ran out of time. All three judges scored it for Miller 29-28.
“I knew I was going to have to give everything I had,” said Miller. “I didn’t want the judges or doctors to stop it.”
New York’s Costa Philippou (12-2) battered Tim Boetsch (16-5) with a ground and pound attack that forced the referee to stop the fight at 2:11 of round three. Boetsch jumped out to an early lead with his grappling but seemed to suffer some kind of injury and Philippou took advantage. After an accidental clash of heads and some punches added, a bloodied Boetsch sustained enough damage for the referee to stop the fight by technical knockout.
Japan’s Yushin Okami (29-7) beat Alan Belcher (17-6) with a dominating ground game and pinned the American fighter every round in their middleweight rematch of six years ago. Belcher could only manage a couple of stiff right hands but other than that, he was on the bottom looking up. Two judges scored it 30-27 and the other 29-28 all for Okami.
“My game plan was to use all the tools that Team Quest taught me. The wrestling, striking and the clinch game were all successfully implemented in this fight to defeat Belcher. Belcher is a very tough opponent and I feel that a win over Belcher should allow me to keep challenging more of the top guys in the middleweight division,” said Okami.
Derek Brunson (10-2) beat UFC veteran Chris Leben (22-9) by unanimous decision after three rounds of a middleweight fight. Brunson used take downs to tire out the stone-chinned Leben who looked slow after a lengthy absence from the Octagon. All three judges scored it 29-28 for Brunson, who was making his UFC debut.