Drive time take: Final look back at UFC 166: 'Velasquez vs. Dos Santos 3' from Houston

Esther Lin for MMA Fighting

We take a final look back at the historical UFC 166: “Velasquez vs. Dos Santos 3” event this past weekend in Houston, Texas, where we witnessed the conclusion of the greatest heavyweight trilogy in the sport’s history along with a lightweight slugfest for the ages and a couple of knockouts for good measure.

UFC President Dana White said this was the greatest night of fights in the company's history and it is sort of difficult to argue with him, despite the promotion putting on incredible events in the past that come to mind (watch the video replay of the post-fight press conference here).

UFC 166: "Velasquez vs. dos Santos 3" pay-per-view (PPV) was breathtaking, to say the least. Cain Velasquez proved that he is the baddest man on the planet and the world's best heavyweight fighter by dismantling Junior dos Santos for the second time, winning the rubber match and coming on top in the greatest heavyweight trilogy the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) has ever seen.

It did not come easy for Velasquez at first, who ate a few good shots from "Cigano" in the very first few seconds of the fight (watch video highlights of the main event here).

As Velasquez survived the bricks that Dos Santos has for hands, the champion executed a game plan similar to the one he used to beat the Brazilian in their second meeting at UFC 155. In the third round, Velasquez dropped dos Santos twice and started to drill him with punches, with Herb Dean putting a hand on Velasquez and almost stopping the fight.

Dos Santos' face was badly cut and bruised, as he summoned himself for the fourth round, but was clearly frustrated and unmotivated to press on. "Cigano" did have immeasurable heart to continue to throw down and even caught Velasquez again with a few shots, although the champion was too smart to engage in a stand-up war and continued to grind him up against the fence.

After a failed takedown attempt by Dos Santos saw him knocking his head on the canvas, Velasquez continued to hit him until the referee stepped in, declaring Velasquez the winner of the trilogy as he retained his title.

The champion now awaits Fabricio Werdum, who will get the next title shot.

Velasquez's main training partner, Daniel Cormier, also had a great evening by beating Roy Nelson in very sense of the word, on the feet and on the ground.

Over the course of three rounds, Cormier outsmarted Nelson by taking him down when he needed to and even won the striking battles against the tough and durable "Big Country." Nelson may have gotten Cormier once with a good, clean shot, but "D.C." was never in trouble. He kept at bay from Nelson's huge right hand and outwrestled his opponent to tire him out.

Interestingly enough, it was Cormier who was closer to knocking out Nelson than his opponent ever was, and nobody can deny the amazing chin of "Big Country."

Although Cormier did not call out Jon Jones in his post-fight interview, his sights are set on a move down to the light heavyweight division and will probably need to take a fight there before he gets his hands on the champion.

Roy Nelson on the other hand, always finds a way to stay relevant, whether it is good or bad.

A barnburner between Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez may have taken home "Fight of The Night" honors; however, this fight edged out Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson's epic battle at UFC 165 for fight of the year and possibly fight of the decade.

In a fight that Melendez clearly won, "El Nino" and "The Dream" finished the first round with a wild exchange and continued to do the same in the second round. The action was marred by the referee who stopped the action twice due to the familiar cuts Sanchez gets over his left eye as of late, but the ringside physician let the fight go on.

During the third round, both lightweights went toe-to-toe and engaged in a slugfest, with Sanchez nearly finishing the fight after dropping Melendez with an uppercut. The Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu product was just too much for Sanchez, as he received the nod from the judges and a standing ovation from the crowd.

Joe Rogan said this was the craziest fight he had ever seen and this scrap between both lightweights was a big reason that this card was such a legendary one. Sanchez respects the decision; however, he does want an immediate rematch with his former training partner.

It did not take long for Gabriel Gonzaga to blast Shawn Jordan with a right hand, knocking him out in just over a minute in the very first round. This fight was destined for someone to drop, as these heavy hitters are known for their vicious knockout power (watch video highlights here).

It was baffling to see a veteran like Gonzaga as the underdog, who was smarter with picking his shots as the short fight progressed and ended it by pouncing on Jordan while he was hurt.

This is the second first-round knockout in a row for "Napao," as he moves to 5-1 in his last six bouts. Jordan is now 3-2 in the promotion.

"Knockout of The Night" winner Jon Dodson has re-established himself as a top dog in the flyweight division by knocking out UFC debutant Darrell Montague in the first round. A careful and composed Dodson was patient with his striking, dropping Montague once early in the first round but his opponent barely survived. Shortly after, Dodson connected with a bomb that sent his foe face-first on the canvas (watch highlights here).

It was a tall order for Montague, who received one of the best flyweights in the world in his debut, yet he too, was a force who was making waves outside of UFC.

The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14 winner returns with a much-needed win after an unsuccessful chance at capturing the title from Demetrious Johnson earlier this year, which was his only loss in his past seven fights. Montague's defeat snaps a four-fight winning streak for the Vale Tudo and Gladiator Challenge veteran.

The "Prelims" main event saw C.B. Dollaway and Tim Boetsch in a gritty and tough contest, with Tim Boetsch winning their contest largely due to the point taken away from "The Doberman" for a pair of eye pokes.

Dollaway was clearly winning the first two rounds, showboating while hitting his opponent often. After Dollaway accidentally poked Boetsch in the eye, the middleweight slugger started to bleed and screamed in agony.

After the point deduction, Dollaway started to turn it on, yet Boetsch was never out of the fight either, he just was not winning.

Boetsch moves to 17-6, snapping a two-fight losing streak, while "The Doberman" goes 2-3 in his last five.

Jessica Eye and Sarah Kaufman proved their fight would be an exciting war between two prominent fighters in the women's bantamweight division, with Eye looking to dazzle in her debut.

Kaufman got the better of the exchanges in the first round and Eye bounced back in the second, clocking Kaufman with her opponent looking eager to return the favor.

In the third round, Kaufman caught Eye off guard and rocked her with two shots, forcing the promotional newcomer to take a few steps backward.

Eye was awarded the split decision victory, which was a little controversial for most, according to the Fight Metric stats. She moves to 11-1, while Kaufman loses her UFC debut.

Former Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard returned to winning ways in his new division by knocking out Nate Marquardt in less than two minutes into the first round, sending the latter on a career-worst three-fight losing streak. Lombard was successful in his welterweight debut and put the entire division on notice as he looked to regain his form last Saturday night.

Lombard caught Marquardt with a devastating left hand that dropped the former middleweight title challenger and the Cuban pounced on him until it was lights out for "The Great."

The PRIDE FC and Bellator veteran made a strong case for his services to be included on the upcoming card in Australia, as he now moves to 2-2 in UFC.

K.J. Noons and George Sotiropoulos may have had the most boring fight on the card and truthfully it was not the worst fight of the year to be fair. Both lightweights took their time and made the best of their openings, with Noons going to the body more often than the head in the first fight of the "Prelims" broadcast on FOX Sports 1.

Sotiropoulos tried to take down the former Strikeforce champion; however, he opted to stand and trade with the boxer and deserves the credit for doing so.

Noons clocked Sotiropoulos badly in the second round and towards the end of the fight, but the jiu-jitsu ace returned the favor.

Ultimately, it was Noons getting the unanimous decision, snapping a three-fight losing streak and avoiding retirement. Sotiropoulos has now lost four straight.

It was a difficult homecoming for T.J. Waldburger, who succumbed to a brutal knockout loss at the hands of the highly-touted Adlan Amagov.

Waldburger had minor success with the grappling exchanges, being unable to take Amagov down.

Amagov landed a spinning-back kick early on in the fight and as the impressive grappler still had difficulty taking down the Russian, Amagov blasted Waldburger with a left hand and continued to deliver nasty shots to a grounded Waldburger, with the referee being a few seconds late to stop the fight.

Unbeaten in the Octagon, Amagov scores his eighth career knockout win while his opponent moves to 4-3 in the promotion.

It did not take very long for "El Cucuy" to finish Mike Rio, even if he was coming back from a year-and-a-half-long layoff.

TUF 13 winner, Tony Ferguson, clocked Mike Rio with a left hand, setting up the d'arce choke and submitting Rio in just under two minutes. Ferguson had attempted a choke in the first round and blasted Rio with knees for his troubles. As Rio got up, he traded with Ferguson, but that was not the best of ideas.

After a long break, Ferguson returns with a "Submission of The Night" win and is now 14-3, while Rio has dropped two straight coming from the submission in the very first round.

Stepping in on less than two weeks notice, Andre Fili helped Team Alpha Male continue their winning ways with a dominant performance over Jeremy Larsen, whom he had hurt and badly cut open in the first round with a gash over each eye.

Fili clocked Larsen with a good combination at the debut of the second round, which forced Larsen to crouch down near the fence and "Touchy" gave him one more body shot to leave no doubt in the referee's mind that the fight was over.

In his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, Fili said it was his dream to take the fight on short notice, cutting from welterweight to make the fight possible.

Opening up the action on fight night was a bantamweight contest between promotional newcomer and former Shooto champion Kyoji Horiguchi, who survived a submission scare from Dustin Pague in the first round and bounced back in the second by staying on top of Pague and finishing him off with some brutal ground-and-pound after posturing up.

Horiguchi, who has a style very similar to Norifumi Yamamoto, moves to an impressive 12-1 in his career while Pague may be the most exciting fighter on the roster to drop four consecutive fights.

In conclusion, nights like these remind us why we are fortunate for a sport with so many exciting variables that come into play on any given fight night.

This was one of the most memorable cards in MMA history.

To see how all the "Space City" action unfolded, head over to our UFC 166 results and live play-by-play thread here. And for more "Velasquez vs. Dos Santos" results, as well as videos, pics, reactions and more, check out our complete UFC 166 link hub by clicking here.

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