Last night's (Oct. 19, 2013) UFC 166 main event featured history in the making when Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos took to the Octagon for a trilogy-ending battle for the throne.
The title of best heavyweight to ever fight in mixed martial arts (MMA) was arguably up for grabs at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, to.
In the end, it turned out to be a masterpiece performance for the champion that leaves no questions as to who the rightful heavyweight king truly is.
Velasquez proved that he is indeed head and shoulders above the rest of his peers -- and he did so by dominating a fighter that no other UFC heavyweight has even gotten close to putting away. Velasquez' extensive training at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) has refined his overall game to a new level that looks nearly unbeatable.
Dos Santos again showed his legendary toughness in another one-sided beating, but that's not much of a consolation prize for the embattled "Cigano." The only suitable outcome for him was to emerge with the heavyweight championship, but instead he's light years away from having another shot at the belt.
This fight proved just how good the best of the best truly is; and Velasquez almost make it look easy. Let's take a look back at the amazing win that saw Velasquez retain his belt in the biggest fight of his life.
The action kicked off with a heated pace, as dos Santos landed a few early punches that looked to have the champ slightly stunned. He proved that he was far from out by taking dos Santos down twice, not surprisingly pushing "Cigano" up against the cage to control the action from the clinch. The fight was playing into Velasquez' hands. He used great dirty boxing to score points as the first round came to a close.
Velasquez continued to exhibit his top-notch wrestling in the second with a trip. His striking against the cage was becoming the most dominant skill set of the night, but dos Santos did briefly turn the tables with a surprising takedown. Regaining his footing, Velasquez refused to give dos Santos an inch to open up his striking by making it his fight from the opening bell. Never one to quit, Dos Santos fought back to land a hard right hand of his own as the second frame wore down.
The third round was where Velasquez truly turned up the heat to prove dos Santos' statement that he "hits like a girl" wrong. Velasquez unleashed a vicious blow that nailed dos Santos flush on the chin, wobbling him badly and sending him to the canvas in a crumpled mess. Remarkably, "Cigano" fought on as referee Herb Dean came back from the brink of stopping the bout. Velasquez continued to punish his opponent with more punches and a submission attempt.
When the fourth round was about to start, dos Santos was a bloody mess -- almost a direct reflection of his loss at UFC 155 in Dec. 2012. Since last night, it's been debated feverishly as to whether or not Dean should have called the bout off after dos Santos absorbed an otherworldly amount of punishment in the third frame. While there's a case to be made for both sides, one thing is clear: Dos Santos simply had no answer for the smothering, in-your-face gameplan of Velasquez.
The champ put a seal on his win over dos Santos by battering him further in the fourth round, using more clinch work to negate "Cigano's" striking prowess. With his main strength neutralized, dos Santos looked to find some precious separation to land some sharp elbows. But Velasquez never stopped pushing forward, even in the fifth and final round. His reputation of having an insane level of cardio for a Heavyweight proved true in Houston as he continued to land quick, accurate combinations until the very end.
Dos Santos was finally put out of his misery when he went for a failed choke that left him exhausted on the Octagon floor, earning the long-awaited stoppage from Dean.
With the win, Velasquez reaffirmed his spot as undisputed king of MMA. With many citing dos Santos' injuries and personal problems as the main factors of Velasquez' win at UFC 155, the champ put an end to all the speculation of his doubters. This victory showed that Velasquez' skills were the true cause of Dos Santos' problems in the cage. Velasquez simply kept dos Santos' dynamic striking game from truly taking off ... and he looked unstoppable in the process.
The future is bright for the champ. He'll most likely defend the belt against number three-ranked Fabricio Werdum in his next trip to the Octagon. With his dominant, career-defining win over his archrival dos Santos, Velasquez makes a strong case for being the best heavyweight to ever grace the cage. He's certainly among the top three of all-time -- even after a relatively small amount of bouts under his belt.
That's a scary thought for the rest of the Heavyweight division. Velasquez is still getting better, and it's hard to see him being knocked off his perch any time soon.
Dos Santos will be forced to go back to the drawing board as the second-best Heavyweight of his era. He's now between a rock and a hard place with the distinction of having lost to his division's champion twice. Holding the belt is the only goal that will satisfy "Cigano's" intense drive, but the only conceivable way he can get back to that point is to go on a big win streak while Velasquez is hopefully upset.
That's a lot of "ifs." And a situation that isn't likely to transpire. He can still destroy the vast majority of 265-pound fighters in UFC, so he'll rebound after healing up to put on several more great performances for the fans. It's far from the end of dos Santos. UFC 166 was devastating, but a fighter of dos Santos' caliber won't be down for long.
Cain Velasquez got his crowning achievement when he destroyed Junior Dos Santos in the last leg of their classic trilogy. Do you envision Velasquez holding onto the belt for a long time to come? And what does the future hold for "Cigano?"