This fight will most likely be remembered as the first UFC show on the FOX network rather than the fight itself. Time will only tell weather or not that is good for the sport of MMA and it’s top promotion, the UFC. Certainly all of the ‘bells and whistles’ were out tonight; there was even a red carpet where celebrities were noticed and photographed in front of a wall filled with “UFC on FOX” logos. All that was left was an epic battle between two undefeated UFC heavyweights.
There were some brief and exciting exchanges of punches between these two top heavyweights. Velasquez seemed to be content with setting up leg kicks with his punches while dos Santos was looking for the knockout blow with every swing. After four exchanges, where both fighters came out on top twice, the next one proved to be the final blow needed. Dos Santos jabbed first, followed quickly by a jab from Velasquez. But dos Santos was in the middle of throwing his second punch in his combination: an overhand right. It connected with Velasquez’s left temple and destroyed his equilibrium; sending him awkwardly to the mat. Velasquez’s eyes were still focused on where dos Santos was in the octagon and watched him come forward. Velasquez rolled to his back and tried to find dos Santos’s hips with his feet to keep the challenger at bay while he recoverd. Dos Santos was able to push Velasquez’s legs aside and started dropping blows to the current champion. Velasquez rolled over to his stomach and took the final blow to the left side of his face and briefly went limp. Referee “Big” John McCarthy stopped the action and declared dos Santos the new UFC heavyweight champion.
Seeing a fighter get KO’ed from a powerful punch to the temple is bittersweet for me. It seems to me to be the most powerful “off switch” there is in MMA. I have greater appreciation for a fighter getting the knockout victory via a power strike to the jaw. Take a look at dos Santos’s previous two opponents, Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson. Both fights went the full distance of three rounds and both of dos Santos’s opponents looked like they were shot out of a canon and into a wall with most of the damage landing on the face. Further more we all know from the Check Kongo fight that Velasquez can take punches and still power through to finish the fight. But no one can withstand a blow from an expert striker wearing 4-ounce gloves when they connect to the temple. I feel bittersweet because this could have been the epic battle of two great mixed martial art experts, but instead we got to see sixty-four seconds of boxing. However, the other side to this argument is the number one rule of MMA; “defend yourself at all times.” If you know the temples are sweet spots, then protect it at all cost.
Junior dos Santos is your new UFC heavyweight champion of the world after a short night at the office. Round one knockout at 1:04.
Next training session…
Dos Santos needs to check leg kicks early and often. Velasquez’s game plan was to work the lead leg of his opponent. Velasquez landed several times within the one-minute contest with no objections from dos Santos. If dos Santos thinks he will have a long career or title reign with out a basic line of such as this, he will be mistaken. Of course it ended up not mattering tonight, but think long term this could be a factor. It was also revealed post fight that dos Santos fought with a torn meniscus and that could also be a reason why he wasn’t checking the kicks as much.
“Velasquez has no weakness!” stated by the UFC’s co-commentator Joe Rogan when Velasquez was entering the octagon. After tonight’s loss in the octagon you would have to reconsider that statement. However, where do you think the fault is? The game plan, nerves are slow to react, his striking or his power? Negative. Chalk this one up to “just getting caught.” Getting hit in the temple is something that you cannot prepare for. Just ask Machida, Couture, Liddell and St. Pierre and the countless other MMA fighters in the world.
Dos Santos will fight the winner of UFC 141’s main event between Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem. I think Alistair will embarrass Brock inside the octagon and hand him two consecutive one-side losses.
Velasquez will have to win at least two more bouts before getting another title shot. The first option is to face the loser of the Lesnar and Overeem fight. Other options include a rematch with Check Kongo or the winner of Frank Mir vs. Big Nog. I could see Velasquez winning any and all of the match ups. Time will tell which path opens up for him.
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