Velasquez TKOs Dos Santos to retain UFC belt
MANILA, Philippines – Defending champion Cain Velasquez battered rival and top challenger Junior Dos Santos for four rounds before eventually winning via technical knockout (TKO) in the fifth round of their heavyweight title fight in the main event of UFC 166 Saturday in Houston, Texas (Sunday in Manila).
In the third meeting between the rivals, it was the Mexican-American Velasquez who once again dominated, setting a quick pace right in the opening round and keeping the pressure on the Brazilian.
Velasquez nearly stopped Dos Santos in the third round, sending the Brazilian down to the canvas though he managed to survive.
Despite Velasquez’s dominance, Dos Santos somehow made it to the final round, even as he sustained a cut above the eye. In the fifth round, Dos Santos missed out on a choke and landed on the canvas, where Velasquez attacked him with a series of punches.
Referee Herb Dean stepped in to stop the fight, giving Velasquez a TKO victory at the 3:09 mark of the final round, allowing him to retain the UFC heavyweight championship.
“What can I say, he beat me up,” Dos Santos said after the fight. “He did a great job. Congratulations to him. I’ll train harder, come back, and face him again.”
“I wanted to finish him,” said Velasquez, who improved his mixed martial arts record to 13-1.
Dos Santos had given Velasquez his first and only loss of his career when he knocked out the Mexican in their very first fight in November 2011. But Velasquez was dominant in the rematch, and stamped his class again in the trilogy bout.
It was Velasquez’s second consecutive title defense, having previously beaten Antonio “Big Foot” Silva at UFC 160.
Meanwhile, the 29-year-old Dos Santos dropped to 16-3 in his career, having lost of two of his last three bouts – both defeats coming at the hands of Velasquez.
UFC president Dana White, for his part, said the main event should have been stopped in the third round, when Velasquez buzzed Dos Santos badly.
“I’ve been around a lot of men who are too tough for their own good, and Junior Dos Santos is one of those men,” said White. “I mean that with all respect.”
|Gilbert Melendez (red gloves) fights against Diego Sanchez (blue gloves) in their lightweight bout during UFC 166 at Toyota Center. Photo by Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters.|
In the undercard, lightweights Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez put on a show for the ages as they waged war for three rounds, with Melendez eventually winning a unanimous decision.
Sanchez was a huge underdog against Melendez, a former contender for the UFC lightweight title. But he went toe-to-toe with Melendez, as the two fighters at certain points in the fight stood in the middle of the Octagon and wildly exchanged blows.
“It was a battle, and exactly what I expected from him as an opponent,” Melendez told Joe Rogan after the fight. “He didn’t go down at all.”
“In my mind and my heart we are the toughest two lightweights out there, and I take my hat off to Gil,” said Sanchez, who said that he wants a rematch – but a five-rounder this time.
In the first bout of the main card, flyweight contender John Dodson opened the pay-per-view in style as he knocked out Darrell Montague in just the first round. Dodson landed a right hand early, then knocked out Montague with a left hand that clearly stunned his opponent. He won via KO at the 4:13 mark of the opener.
In a heavyweight showdown, Daniel Cormier kept his record spotless after routing Roy “Big Country” Nelson, with scores of 30-27 across the board.
Cormier improved to 13-0 and said he will move down to light-heavyweight in his next fight. Nelson’s record now stands at 20-9.