The UFC returned to Houston, Texas for the first time in over 2 years this past weekend for the third fight in the trilogy between reigning Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez and the only man to defeat him in his UFC career Junior dos Santos. Overall it was a thrilling affair, with some brutal and bloody fights making up one of the most entertaining cards of the year so far.
Kicking of the main card we had flyweight John Dodson bouncing back from his own recent title-shot loss to Demetrious Johnson to claim a stunning first round TKO against Darrell Montague. Dodson rightfully was awarded the ‘Knockout of the Night’ bonus for his efforts proving that while he may only be knee-high to a grasshopper, he also has hands of absolute steel. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s put back in title contention very shortly. Next up was the first of three heavyweight clashes as Shawn Jordan took on the Brazilian Gabriel Gonzaga. Again we were treated to a stunning first round TKO as Gonzaga put hands on the American. With this his second consecutive first-round knockout, it’ll be interesting to see where this puts Gonzaga on the Heavyweight ladder.
Following this we had an all-out War of the Mexicans as lightweights Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez gave us three of the most exiting rounds of mixed martial arts action ever. Many are calling this a sure-shot for Fight of The Year; veteran UFC commenter Joe Rogan immediately declared it the best fight he’d ever seen! Hell, you even had UFC president Dana White jumping in the cage afterwards to congratulate both fighters which is something virtually unheard of outside of the main event. The two deservedly picked up ‘Fight of the Night’ bonuses for their efforts and I’d happily pay to watch them go to war again.
Maybe it was the aftermath of this fight that caused Daniel Cormier vs. Roy Nelson to be such a snooze-fest for me. I didn’t envy either fighter having to follow the explosive action that preceded them, but the bout quickly turned in to a one-sided affair with Cormier outwrestling and outpunching Nelson over three rounds. I’m as big a fan of ‘Big Country’ as the next guy, but he really had nothing to offer in this fight. Much like his training partner Cain Velasquez, Cormier excels in that smothering style that barely gives his opponents space to do anything. It was this trademark Velasquez style that came to the fore in the main event as he treated us to another rerun of his five-round dismantling of Junior dos Santos. Despite getting a few good shots in early on, dos Santos basically got mauled for the next five rounds. Cain Velasquez is one scary dude; basically The Terminator in fight shorts. His relentless pursuit of his opponent, incredible cardio and technical dismantling of dos Santos made him look machine-like inside the octagon. He never chased the knockout, just methodically drove Junior against the cage and picked him apart piece by piece. The fifth round stoppage seemed almost like an act of mercy as dos Santos, ultimately beaten and swollen beyond recognition had absolutely nothing left to offer.
This fight proved beyond doubt that Velasquez is unquestionably the greatest heavyweight in the world right now. What this leaves in the form of challengers is unknown as of now. With this trilogy of great fights firmly closed now, it will be interesting to see where the champion goes from here.