It may have been the most one-sided UFC heavyweight title fight in the promotion's history.
Cain Velasquez's 13-month mission to regain the title he had once possessed came to its full conclusion last night with Velasquez beating Junior dos Santos to a pulp for 25 minutes. Velasquez had no problems connecting with punch after punch, stunning dos Santos at times and at other times just connecting hard. The first two rounds of this fight may have been the most dominant rounds of Velasquez's mixed martial arts career, no matter the opponent. Velasquez stayed close and continued to throw, constantly pressuring dos Santos for the first ten minutes after charging out at the fight's beginning just like he did last year when these two fought.
Velasquez switched his attention in the final three rounds to a focus on wearing out an already worn out opponent. An easy way to do that: take him down. And that's what Velasquez did: he went for takedown after takedown, successful with most, and proceeded to wear dos Santos down by either taking him to the ground many times or forcing him to use energy escaping the takedowns.
To his credit, dos Santos continued to fight, and never gave up. However, he wasn't able to do much of anything outside of isolated blows and some decent movement around the cage. And even that was primarily in the championship (final two) rounds. By then, Velasquez had at least one 10-8 round and a huge lead on the scorecards.
Velasquez's whipping of dos Santos was capped off fittingly by a nice right kick by Velasquez to dos Santos' head with around thirty seconds remaining in the fight. A perfect exclamation point for as close to a perfect performance as Velasquez has had in his career.
Jim Miller and Joe Lauzon gave the fans in Las Vegas a wild and bloody battle that ended with Miller earning a unanimous decision victory. Most people will forget that Miller ended up the winner of the fight due to Lauzon fighting almost the entire fight with blood pouring down his face and onto his opponent.
Lauzon was cut badly above his right eye during round one, and the blood flow was rapid. The blood was clearly going to be something continuous during the fight, no matter what Lauzon's corner did. During the rest of the fight, blood ended up getting in Miller's hair and on his face and body at various moments. The cut was a very large cut and wasn't hard at all to re-open, which happened in each of the final two rounds after the first punch Miller landed on or near the cut. Lauzon ended up getting cut outside of his left eye in round three as well.
Miller won the fight thanks to a tremendous showing with his fists. Miller's most successful and most often landed punches during the fight were overhand rights & lefts as well as uppercuts. The fact that Miller was able to land punches in bunches on and off during the fight ended up helping him on the scorecards. Another thing that benefited Miller early in the fight was his ability to get hold of Lauzon and literally move him toward the cage. He did this several times in the opening round and used it as a way to gain back dominance when the fight was standing.
The reason Miller was in such a battle was that no matter how much he dominated at times, Lauzon wouldn't go away. Despite Lauzon's cut and blood loss, he did fight back and nearly submitted Miller on a few occasions. At the end of round two, Lauzon was going for a heel hook, but didn't have enough time to get the submission. Almost the same thing happened at the very end of the fight: Lauzon locked on a leg lock, but only had it by his right hand thanks to Miller using his strength to keep a grip on Lauzon's left hand. Lauzon ended up giving up on the leg and just seconds later locked on a guillotine choke, nearly choking Miller out as the fight ended.
Constantinos Philippou sent a clear message to UFC's middleweight division with his TKO win over Tim Boetsch: I'm here to stay. Philippou diverted any possibility of a Boetsch comeback a la Boetsch's fight earlier this year with Yushin Okami by finishing him off a little over two minutes into the final round. Philippou had a weakened opponent in front of him that he was dominating and was able to take him to the mat and finish him off with right hands.
Both men had noteworthy blows landed in the opening round: a picture perfect, look up the term and you'll find this one uppercut from the right hand of Philippou, and a front kick from Boetsch that floored Philippou as the round ended.
Boetsch had plenty going against him in this one. It appeared that Boetsch hurt his right hand during round one, and he seemed to throw it more selectively than normal after round one. In round two, Boetsch was cut on the forehead accidentally early in the round and then later was accidentally poked in the right eye. That eye swelled up fairly quickly after being poked. The blood began to pour from Boetsch in round three when the cut on his forehead was opened up and he appeared to get cut again on the face.
Philippou was replacing Chris Weidman who had to drop out of his fight with Boetsch due to injury. Philippou was actually supposed to fight Nick Ring at last month's UFC 154, but Ring fell ill and that fight was canceled.
Derek Brunson looked impressive for one round during his successful UFC debut. Brunson's first round in UFC turned out to be the best of the three rounds he fought Saturday night in his decision victory over Chris Leben.
Brunson used takedowns and plenty of ground work to wear down Leben during the opening five minutes. The problem for both fighters became what that first round took out of them.
Brunson was clearly gassed for the final two rounds while having to still rely on takedowns due to his punches and kicks have little to nothing on them. Leben may have been attempting to wear out Brunson, mainly a striker, by forcing him to go the ground and then taking advantage later when the fight would be standing. The irony is that all that grappling in the first round appeared to gas Leben out while he was on defense. Leben landed a few nice punches, but also didn't have much of anything on his strikes during the final two rounds either.
The fight was Leben's first in a little under fourteen months.
Yushin Okami may be climbing right back into the middleweight championship discussion. Okami dominated Alan Belcher in a very, very ground-based bout on his way to a unanimous decision victory. Okami dominated with a smothering ground game that wore down Belcher the same way Okami wore down Buddy Roberts back in August. Okami has won both of his fights since losing a fight he was easily winning to Tim Boetsch earlier in 2012. Could a rematch be a possibility in 2013?Tags: Alan Belcher, Cain Velasquez, Chris Leben, Constantinos Philippou, Derek Brunson, Jim Miller, Joe Lauzon, Junior dos Santos, MMA, Tim Boetsch, UFC, Yushin Okami