LAS VEGAS-UFC’s heavyweight behemoths battled it out, with champion Cain Velasquez getting his first win as a champion by knockout of Brazil’s Antonio “Big Foot” Silva in the first round on Saturday at UFC 160.
Velasquez (12-1) finally won his first world title defense when he delivered a knockout win against Silva (18-5) in front of more than 12,000 fans at the UFC’s card held at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas.
It was a big hit for MMA fans.
Velasquez had previously won the heavyweight title against Brock Lesnar several years ago then immediately was hooked in his first title defense by Junior Dos Santos in Anaheim. That loss was avenged last year when Velasquez dominated Dos Santos to regain the world title.
Rematches are funny business in the world of MMA. Just like Velasquez was able to reverse the decision against Dos Santos, many expected Silva to do the same to the Mexican-American heavyweight. They were simply dreaming.
Velasquez was a heavy 9 to 1 favorite entering the Octagon and showed why. He was too quick for the bigger Silva, who just couldn’t match the hand or foot speed of the champion.
After some tentative exchanges Velasquez began to put on the pressure and caught the bigger Silva with a right cross to the chin and down he went. The heavyweight champion then proceeded to unload 11 unanswered blows to the head of Silva who was on both knees. The referee jumped in to stop the fight at 1:21 of the first round.
“He was moving and never stayed in front of me,” said Velasquez. “He’s tough. He’s always tough.”
Now Velasquez will meet Dos Santos for a third time.
Former heavyweight champion Dos Santos (16-2) knocked out big punching Mark Hunt (9-8) of New Zealand with a spinning reverse kick to the head to win by knockout at 4:18 of round three. But it wasn’t as easy as it seemed.
Hunt landed some heavy blows in every round of the heavyweight contest and at times seemed to stun Brazil’s Dos Santos. A left hook by Hunt in round two forced the Brazilian to take the New Zealander to the ground. That drew boos from the crowd who preferred to see the two behemoths exchange bombs instead.
Dos Santos was winning on the score cards and may have realized he was ahead but attacked and connected with a left hook that wobbled Hunt. Then the spinning kick high on the head dropped Hunt like a bag of potatoes. Dos Santos fired one more right hand at the felled fighter and the referee jumped in to stop the pummeling.
“He’s very dangerous,” said Dos Santos, who will now fight for the heavyweight title. “I did my best so I can be the champion again.”
Brazil’s Glover Teixeira (21-2) tried to out slug James Te Huna (18-6) and when that didn’t work he took it to the ground where he wrangled a guillotine choke to end the fight at 2:38 of the first round of a light heavyweight fight. The Brazilian was seemingly more excited about a former heavyweight boxing world champion watching in the audience.
“I saw him on the floor,” said Teixeira who waved at Mike Tyson after the win. “I watched his highlights before coming over here.”
Gray Maynard (12-2-1) started quick with some big punches but TJ Grant (21-5) ended the fight with a rocket right hand then followed up with a number of blows to end the lightweight clash at 2:07 of the first round. Grant wants the champ.
“I practiced that for eight weeks,” said Grant of the picture perfect right cross. “I want to fight Ben Henderson for the title. Now I want the champ.”
New Mexico’s Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (20-5) defeated KJ Noons (10-6) of San Diego in a battle between hard hitters after three rounds of a welterweight fight. Cerrone’s kicks and ground game dominated Noons who never could use his punching power. All three judges scored it for Cerrone.
Veteran Mike Pyle (25-8-1) used his experience to out-fight the younger and quicker Rick Story (15-7) and win a split decision in the welterweight match. Story jumped out of the gate quickly and used his quick punching to good use. But Pyle, a former world champion, slowly turned things around with attempted arm bars and well-placed knees. Two judges scored it 29-28 for Pyle and one judge 29-28 for Story.
New York’s Dennis Bermudez (12-3) overcame a slow start and some vicious kicks by Hawaii’s Max Holloway (7-2) to win a split decision. Holloway had a variety of kicks that hurt Bermudez early in the fight, but the New Yorker increased the tempo and used his strength to put Holloway on the ground in the third and final round of the featherweight bout. One judge scored it for Holloway 29-28, but two saw it for Bermudez 29-28 to give him the win.
A battle between for Ultimate Fighter winners ended in a knockout win by Australia’s Robert Whittaker (12-2) over Iowa’s Colton Smith (6-2) in a very entertaining welterweight fight. Whittaker had a unique front hand down style that proved effective against Smith’s move and hit groove. Short but quick punching combinations proved effective for Whittaker who timed a perfect left hook to down Smith whose back side of his head slammed on the mat. The referee immediately stopped the fight 41 seconds into the third round.
Kazakhstan’s Khabib Nurmagomedov (20-0) thoroughly dominated Florida’s Abel Trujillo (10-5) all three rounds in a lightweight clash but thoroughly bored and upset the crowd with his grappling-minded fight. Round after round Nurmagomedov was able to take down Trujillo at will but did nothing else for all three rounds. Fans booed the decision that saw all three judges score it 30-27 for Nurmagomedov.
Stephen Thompson (7-1) jumped out to an early lead with a busier punch output that Philadelphia’s Nah-Shon Burrell (9-3) just couldn’t match in the welterweight fight. Combination punching and kicks to the head didn’t always land and the multiple take downs by Thompson were not very effective, but Burrell could never land the big blow he was looking for. Despite never throwing a jab, Burrell was able to win the last round according to two judges. But all three judges favored Thompson 29-28 twice and 30-27.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV