UFC 166 Rewind: Velasquez finishes JDS in 5th

Published on Monday, 10/21/13, at 5:35 p.m. Eastern.

By Brian Edwards

Cain Velasquez destroyed Junior dos Santos to remain the UFC’s heavyweight champion Saturday night in Houston at Toyota Center, hooking up his backers as a -200 favorite. Gamblers backing ‘over’ 3.5 rounds were winners, but they shouldn’t have been.

Dos Santos was tough and game as hell as always. During Bruce Buffer’s intros before the fight, JDS came all the way to Cain’s side of the Octagon and dropped his fist as he does prior to each fight. Cain met JDS face to face with a series of nods.

When the fighting started, Velasquez got right back to where he left off in Las Vegas last December. He brutalized Dos Santos with his cardio, wrestling and striking. Dos Santos didn’t gas out as quickly as at UFC 155, but he had no answer for the champion’s furious pace and overall skills.

JDS’s best moment of the fight came at the end of the second round. Pressed against the cage by Cain, Dos Santos landed a short elbow as he broke out of the clinch. Then he connected with a huge right that knocked Velasquez back just as the bell sounded. Cain acknowledged JDS’s best punch of the match with a nod.

But in the third, Velasquez floored JDS with a thunderous right. He pounced on Dos Santos and went to work in ground-and-pound fashion.

Herb Dean should’ve stopped the fight at this point. He sure as hell thought about it, even tapping Cain on the shoulder before opting against the much-needed stoppage. JDS appeared to be out on his feet after somehow getting off the ground, but the fight went on and the carnage continued.

The result had already been decided. Dos Santos fought like a warrior, but his corner or the doctor should’ve stopped the fight before the fourth or fifth round. B.J. Penn’s corner rightly wouldn’t allow him to go out for the fifth and final stanza in a loss to Georges St. Pierre.

Reports out of Houston early Sunday indicated that Dos Santos thought he had been KO’d in the second round and had no recollection of a post-fight interview with Joe Rogan. Dana White told the media, “I wanted to throw in the towel.”

According to White, Velasquez will make his third title defense in his second run as champ against Fabricio Werdum, who is 3-0 in his second stint with the promotion.

Daniel Cormier is headed down to the light heavyweight loop after beating Roy ‘Big Country’ Nelson by unanimous decision. Cormier hooked up his backers as a favorite in the -500, -600 range. The ‘over’ 1.5 rounds at a -240ish price was a winner.

Cormier will face a top-five contender in his debut at 205 pounds, possibly even Alexander Gustafsson.

Nelson has now lost back-to-back fights since winning three consecutive bouts. He has eight fights left on his UFC contract and might eventually drop to light heavyweight, too.

In the lightweight division, Diego ‘The Dream’ Sanchez and former Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez collided in a battle for the ages. Melendez prevailed by unanimous decision (29-28 twice, 30-27) as a -600 ‘chalk.’

Melendez created a huge cut over Sanchez’s left eye when he connected with a big elbow late in the opening round. Fortunately most of the blood flowed down the side of his face and didn’t get into Sanchez’s left eye, allowing the fight to go on.

Sanchez was extremely competitive in the first two rounds, but they clearly were Melendez’s rounds on the scorecard. But in the third, Sanchez’s warrior spirit became the dominant theme. ‘The Dream’ was eating 2-3 punches to land one in the early going, but his punch volume evened out in the third.

In fact, he floored Melendez with more than two minutes remaining and had his former training partner hurt badly. Sanchez jumped on Melendez and began working for submissions, but both fighters were too slippery for Sanchez to execute a finishing ground move.

Melendez worked his way back to his feet and then both fighters threw down for the final 90 seconds. They swung to the final bell, igniting the raucous crowd into a roar that didn’t end until long after the decision was announced.

Go ahead and mark down Melendez-Sanchez as the leading candidate for 2013 Fight of the Year. (But I still say Matt Brown vs. Carlos Condit will still garner this award in an upcoming welterweight scrap.)

**Octagon Extras**

–Gabriel Gonzaga cashed +150 underdog tickets in his first-round KO of Shawn ‘The Savage’ Jordan. Gonzaga could be poised for an appearance in the heavyweight division’s Top 10 rankings.

–John Dodson took home the KO of the Night bonus with his first-round finish of Darrell Montague.

–Hector Lombard beat Nate Marquardt by first-round KO as a -175 favorite in his debut at 170 pounds. Marquardt might be looking at a pink slip following a second straight first-round loss by KO (Jake Ellenberger last time out).

–In the co-main event Saturday at UFC Fight Night 30, Melvin Guillard is a -145 favorite vs. Ross Pearson in a 155-pound matchup. As usual, I like Guillard.

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