By Jaime C. Feal
Cain Velasquez is still the man to beat in the UFC heavyweight division after dominating Junior Dos Santos for five rounds. In a bout that looked like their second fight, Velasquez used clinch work, wrestling, and dirty boxing to beat on and wear out JDS. Velasquez’s training partner and AKA teammate Daniel Cormier remained undefeated with a similar strategy, taking a unanimous decision nod over Roy Nelson. Starting off the main card, John “The Magician” Dodson scored a first round KO over UFC newcomer Darrell Montague. Dodson flashed off his signature overhand left, knocking down Montague several times before finally putting him away late in the round. Next up, Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga scored one for the old school heavyweights, destroying young prospect and former LSU fullback Shawn Jordan. Early in the fight Gonzaga clipped Jordan with a counter right and followed up with hammerfists, earning the TKO victory at just 1:33 of Round 1.
Lightweight Division (155 lbs.):
Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez (21-3, 0-1 UFC) vs. Diego Sanchez (24-5, 13-5 UFC)
Sanchez the early aggressor, Melendez tries a headkick, but Sanchez catch it and takes him down. Sanchez gets both hooks in, and Melendez stands up to try to escape. Sanchez goes for the rear-naked choke, and “El Nino” reverses deftly, then tags Sanchez with a body shot. Melendez works a couple jabs, then an outside leg kick. Another right hand to the body by Melendez. Sanchez with a hard leg kick. Good jab from Melendez. Fast pace to start this fight for both these men, who seem to have infinite cardio. Melendez now picking up the forward pressure, gets Sanchez good with a knee. Big right hook from Melendez, showing off his speed advantage. Sanchez shoots, Melendez denies him then lands an uppercut. Good start for Melendez. Another big right hand from Melendez, but Sanchez responds with a hard body kick. Sanchez is now bloodied up near his left eye. The fighters trade hooks, both partially landing. Sanchez misses with the spinning back kick. Melendez dominating the round now, denies Sanchez on a takedown attempt. Good body shot by “El Nino”. Good body kick by Sanchez. May have hurt Melendez, Sanchez tags him with a hook, presses forward. Melendez on the defense now, but then starts unloading on Sanchez in a wild exchange. Sanchez briefly drops, pops back up, starts swinging again, round ends. 10-9 round for Sanchez.
Melendez lands a jab, Sanchez waives him on. Nice right hand from Melendez. Big counter right lands for Sanchez, then Melendez does the same. Inside leg for Melendez, fight gets stopped to check on Sanchez’s cut. Fight resumes. Hard body kick from Melendez. Nice combination to the body and head from Melendez, Sanchez hanging in there and throwing back. Good jab from Melendez, Sanchez tries to hit him with a couple hooks, doesn’t really connect. Sanchez slips, Melendez tries to swarm but cannot. Good body kick from Sanchez once again. The side of Melendez is starting to get red. Beautiful combination from Melendez. Sanchez briefly gets a takedown, “El Nino” right back to his feet. One minute left to go in the round. The fighters start trading wildly once again, and Melendez is getting the better of it. Now Sanchez tries for another takedown, which is stuffed. Good counter right from Melendez, Sanchez misses with a spinning back kick. 10-9 round for Melendez.
Melendez back to the jab, controlling the distance. Good uppercut from Sanchez. Nice counter left from Melendez. “El Nino” looking fresh, bobbing on his feet. The lightweights exchange wildly yet again, neither one really landing this time. Hard counter punches from Melendez land. Both are continuing to unload with hooks, playing a real life game of rock-em-sock-em robots. Unreal action, as Sanchez just refuses to go away. Huge one-two from Melendez, just tagging Sanchez, who is an absolute bloody mess. Fight gets stopped to check the cut, crowd boos loudly as they were really enjoying the action. Doctor allows the fight to continue. Body kick from Sanchez, halfway through the final round. Crowd chanting Diego’s name, admiring his resilience. More hook combinations, Sanchez with his hands down, imploring Melendez to hit him. Good right hand from Sanchez, then a right hand from Melendez. HUGE uppercut from Sanchez drops Melendez on his back, Melendez almost out, but recovers. Sanchez going for the guillotine, Melendez escapes back to his feet. Knee to the head from Melendez, then an elbow. Melendez gets a takedown off a failed Sanchez spinning backfist. Sanchez switches and gets back to his feet. Big body kick from Sanchez, and Melendez takes a big deep breath with 20 seconds left. The fighters both swing for the fences with ten seconds left, both landing pretty solid to conclude one of, if not the greatest fights in MMA history. 10-10 round.
The judges score the fight 29-28, 30-27, and 29-28 for the winner by unanimous decision, Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez.
Heavyweight Division (265 lbs.):
Daniel Cormier (12-0, 1-0 UFC) vs. Roy “Big Country” Nelson (19-8, 6-4 UFC)
Left hook from Nelson just misses. Cormier in on a single leg, takes Nelson down with ease. Nelson trying to butterfly sweep, Cormier having none of it. Cormier smothering Nelson against the cage, beating up on Nelson with punches to the body. Roy trying to get back up, but Cormier is hanging all over him. Nelson is back up, but right back down. Cormier staying active, Nelson able to stand up again. Cormier right back to the single leg. Cormier working dirty boxing against the cage, nice knee to the body. Nelson can’t get anything going. Nice uppercut from Cormier. Huge knee to the body from Cormier, then one catches Nelson low. Fight stops for Nelson to recover from the inadvertent low blow. After the right resumes, Cormier lands a couple jabs. Nice right hand from Nelson. Big combination from Cormier, lands heavy on Nelson. Cormier backs away, lands another hard combination, Nelson smiles at him then swings and misses with a right haymaker. 10-9 round for Cormier.
Neither heavyweight landing anything so far, but Nelson is able to keep the distance. Big outside leg kick from Cormier. Straight kick to the body from Cormier. Nice right hand from Nelson. Good combination from Cormier, pushes forward and presses Nelson against the cage. Nelson eats a huge knee to the body. Cormier deep on a single leg. But Nelson gets back up to his feet, lands an uppercut. Nelson trying for a standing guillotine, Cormier gets free. Beautiful combination from Cormier. Hard outside leg kick from DC, then Nelson lands one of his own. Switch kick from Cormier. 10-9 round for Cormier.
Cormier scoring with kicks to the body. Good right hand from DC. Right hand to the body from Nelson. Big outside leg kick from Cormier, who is the fresher of the two heavyweights. Hard front kick from Cormier. Big one-two now from DC, showing off very good striking. Heavy body kick right to Nelson’s side. Nelson trying to catch him with the big haymaker still, but unable to. Huge right hand from Cormier, then he takes Nelson down. Nelson right back to his feet. Low-high kick combo from Cormier, target practice for him. One-two from Cormier, Nelson getting beat up. Outside leg kick from Nelson. 10-9 round for Cormier.
All three judges score the fight 30-27 for the winner by unanimous decision, Daniel Cormier.
UFC Heavyweight Championship (265 lbs.):
Cain Velasquez (12-1, 10-1 UFC) vs. Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos (16-2, 10-1 UFC)
JDS immediately tags Velasquez with two counter left hooks that have him wobbled. Velasquez shoots for a single and briefly gets Dos Santos down. JDS gets back up, nails Cain with a huge uppercut. Velasquez pressing forward, goes for another takedown. Velasquez now pressing JDS against the cage, working dirty boxing. JDS breaks free, Velasquez right back on him. Cain has him against the cage again. JDS gets free, tries a head kick. Velasquez has a body lock, trying to take JDS down. Dos Santos defending well for the time being. Velasquez working knees to the thigh. Velasquez gets a takedown, passes to half guard. Dos Santos unable to get up, eats an elbow. Dos Santos gives up his back, Velasquez gets both hooks. Dos Santos able to stand up and escape, Velasquez back on a single. More dirty boxing from the champion. Dos Santos misses with a spinning kick at the end of the round. 10-9 round for Velasquez.
Velasquez quickly pressing forward, Dos Santos backs him off temporarily with a counter left. Velasquez trips JDS down, but the Brazilian pops back up. Velasquez has him against the cage again where he wants him. Good jabs from Velasquez, once again presses JDS against the cage. Velasquez allowing no space to the challenger. Cain in on a single, back to the dirty boxing. JDS trips Velasquez down, only for Cain to get right up and tag him with a series of right hands. JDS now has a swollen face courtesy of the beating Cain is laying on him. This fight resembling the second fight, Velasquez dominating with dirty boxing. 10-9 round for Velasquez.
Big right hand from JDS, but Cain takes it well. Velasquez right back to pressing his man against the cage. Big left hand, then a jab from the champion. Enormous right hand from Velasquez, JDS just eats it. Velasquez working to take JDS down again on the fence. Big elbow from JDS, his best offense in the clinch. Hard straight right for Dos Santos after they break, but Velasquez presses on him again. JDS shrugs off a takedown attempt, lands a right hand. Overhand right clips Dos Santos and drops him bad. Velasquez swarms, trying to choke JDS out. Somehow JDS survives, getting beat on against the cage though. JDS is out on his feet. Headkick from Velasquez, then a left hook. Dirty boxing from Velasquez, JDS eats two more right hands/ Velasquez keeps tagging him as the round closes. 10-8 round for Velasquez.
Velasquez nails JDS with another right, presses him against the cage. More hooks from Velasquez, rolling Dos Santos’s eyes back in his head, yet JDS remains upright. Savage beating he is laying on the Brazilian challenger. More dirty boxing from Velasquez. JDS tries to wing a left hook but misses. Elbow from Dos Santos. JDS is a bloody mess, swollen and cut everywhere. Good right hand from Dos Santos, then a nice uppercut. Elbows on the inside land for Velasquez. Fight is stopped to check the cut on Dos Santos, his left eye is almost completely closed. Good elbow on the inside from JDS, but then eats a right hand where his eye is cut. Knees to the body from JDS. 10-9 round for Velasquez.
JDS lands a few good punches, but Velasquez takes him down with a single leg. Dos Santos looked for a triangle, Cain easily passes. Velasquez on the back of Dos Santos working ground and pound. JDS gets back up to his feet, and Velasquez goes back to the dirty boxing. Good elbows on the inside from Dos Santos, but Velasquez stays right on him. Midway point of the final round. Big right hand from Velasquez with just over two minutes left. Dos Santos tries for a guillotine, but winds up falling on the top of his head, dazing himself. Velasquez nails the turtled JDS with two hard right hands, and Herb Dean correctly steps in to stop the fight.
Cain Velasquez wins by TKO at 3:09 of Round 5.