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Although Cain Velasquez now leads their series 2-1, a closer look at the UFC heavyweight champion's round-by-round results with Junior dos Santos shows a much more dominant picture.
For the second straight time, Velasquez (13-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC) dominated the former titleholder and emphatically won the duo's rubber match, which headlined Saturday's UFC 166 event at Houston's Toyota Center.
After a night of violent knockouts and contentious judges' decisions, the pay-per-view headliner proved to be a remarkably one-sided affair, and a late-fight TKO ultimately halted the drubbing of dos Santos (16-3 MMA, 10-2 UFC).
Velasquez lost his title and suffered his only career defeat in a 64-second knockout loss in the duo's 2011 meeting. But he made the third meeting look much like the second. In that late-2012 rematch, Velasquez dominated for five rounds and took back the title.
At UFC 166, the champ continued the dominance for another four-plus rounds by closing the distance, pinning dos Santos against the cage, and leaving the challenger's face a bruised and bloodied mess.
Early in the fight, Velasquez was willing to trade punches, and he nearly paid for it. Staggered early by dos Santos and then game to trade haymakers, Velasquez ultimately settled in and opted to close the distance.
"Junior came out stronger," Velasquez said. "I tried to beat him to the first punch, but it seems like he beat me. So it was a battle of that. So I tried to get him down."
Velasquez got his first takedown midway through the round, and even after dos Santos go to this feet, the champ mixed in some solid dirty boxing from the clinch.
In the second round, Velasquez stuck to what was working and again closed the distance. After landing a few solid blows, including a number of knees to the legs, he worked for takedowns while pinning dos Santos against the cage. More knees and short punches interrupted the takedown attempts, which left dos Santos primarily on the defensive.
Although dos Santos continued to avoid takedowns and opened the third round with a solid right, Velasquez's relentless work from the clinch continued to dictate the pace of the fight. Dos Santos attempted escapes, short elbows and knees to the gut, but Velasquez refused to give him any distance for more than a few fleeting moments. Once he finally gave dos Santos some room, it did little good. Velasquez dropped dos Santos with a right hand and then continued with a dozen follow-up blows. Referee Heb Dean nearly halted the fight as dos Santos covered up on the mat, and he nearly stopped it again as the Brazilian miraculously got back to his feet. But Velasquez continued connecting on significant blows that battered and bloodied the challenger.
With dos Santos on wobbly legs, the fourth round offered much of the same. Velasquez pinned him against the cage and looked for takedown attempts, and he wrecked the fighter's face and body after allowing the slightest bit of space. A timeout was called as dos Santos' face squirted blood from multiple cuts and as his left eye swelled shut, but the cageside physician allowed the abuse to continue.
By the final round, dos Santos' exhaustion was evident. In fact, it forced a stoppage. As Velasquez unloaded power shots from both hands, a desperate dos Santos tried a takedown, only to slip and drive his own head into the mat. Clearly dazed and unable to protect himself, the ref halted the bout at the 3:09 mark of the round.
After the fight, Velasquez thanked teammate and UFC 166 co-headliner Daniel Cormier, who defeated Roy Nelson via unanimous decision, for pushing him through camp. He said it made him a better fighter.
"But (dos Santos) got better as well," he said.
Dos Santos, meanwhile, was left a bit speechless from the beatdown.
"He's very – what can I say? He beat me up," dos Santos said. "That's what I have to say."
With two lopsided wins over the world's No. 2 heavyweight and 10 knockouts in 12 career wins, No. 1 Velasquez could soon be chasing the title of greatest heavyweight in MMA history.
UFC 166 QUICK RESULTS: Via MMA Mania
265 lbs.: UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos -- Velasquez wins via TKO (strikes) 3:09 rd 5
265 lbs.: Roy Nelson vs. Daniel Cormier -- Cormier wins via decision (unanimous) 30-27 x3
155 lbs.: Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez -- Melendez wins via decision (unanimous) 29-28 x2, 30-27
265 lbs.: Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Shawn Jordan -- Gonzaga wins via TKO (punches) 1:33 rd 1
125 lbs.: John Dodson vs. Darrell Montague -- Dodson wins via KO (punch) 4:13 rd 1
185 lbs.: Tim Boetsch vs. C.B. Dollaway -- Boetsch wins via decision (split) 30-26 x2, 27-29
170 lbs.: Hector Lombard vs. Nate Marquardt -- Lombard wins via TKO (punches) 1:48 rd 1
135 lbs.: Jessica Eye vs. Sarah Kaufman -- Eye wins via decision (split) 29-28 x2, 28-29
155 lbs.: K.J. Noons vs. George Sotiropoulos -- Noons wins via decision (unanimous) 30-27, 29-28 x2
170 lbs.: Adlan Amagov vs. T.J. Waldburger -- Amagov wins via KO (punches) 3:45 rd 1
155 lbs.: Anthony Ferguson vs. Mike Rio -- Ferguson wins via submission (D'arce choke) 1:52 rd 1
148 lbs.: Jeremy Larsen vs. Andre Fili* (Fili missed weight at 148.5) -- Fili wins via TKO (punches) 0:53 rd 2
135 lbs.: Dustin Pague vs. Kyogi Horiguchi -- Horiguchi wins via TKO (strikes) 3:51 rd 2
UFC 166 MAIN CARD COMMENTARY PLAY-BY-PLAY (PPV):
Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos
Round one: Well, my turtle is puckered. Dos Santos just came out for his center cage point thing and Velasquez just met him nose to nose. Cain in black, JDS in blue. Dean the third. Right from Cain and one from JDS staggers Cain two seconds in. Cain grabs a low single and uses it to fish for a guillotine. HUGE uppercut from JDS! Cain with a right. They clinch and Cain is bodying JDS into the fence. Dirty boxing from Cain and the crowd is roaring. Right from Cain. Left from Santos. Cain reaches for a leg but gives it up. Cain with an underhook and punches. Right from Junior and a headkick is blocked. Cain with the dirty boxing again and knees to the legs. Cain drags him to the ground and mounts him. Half guard. Elbow from the bottom from Jr. One from top by Cain. Short right, but an arm punch from Velasquez. JDS rolls, Cain drags him back down. Knee to the left side of JDS and he drops down again. JDS stuffs it at first and hits a hammerfist. Cain on him like glue with double underhooks. Over/under now and an uppercut from Cain. Knee from JDS bounces Cain's leg way back. They exchange knees and JDS breaks free. He realizes the round is nearly over and he tries a spin kick without fear of the takedown.
Round two: Cain pushing forward. They exchange rights. Cain hits a single but Junior bounces back up. Back to the cage fighting. Two big knees to Junior's legs. Left underhook and a couple rights to JDS. Cain backs off for a second and JDS channels his inner Muhammad Ali with great head movement dodging them all. Stiff jab from Velasquez closes the distance. Knee to Santos' guts. Cain backs off and they're free. Not anymore as Cain powers through a single, backing Junior into the metal again. Junior lands a nice hip toss, but can't capitalize as they both stand. Right hands from both, but Cain's was harder it seemed. JDS tries a knee as Cain comes back in, but doesn't hit it clean. Back to the clinch and Cain lands some more leg knees. Right from JDS. Another, but Cain wades through the swings and we're back to the wall. Hard to call this wall and stall because Cain is striking this whole time. Junior lands a good short one as the round ends.
Round three: Right from Junior and Cain drives through on a single. JDS stuffs it, but we're back to the rails. Left from Cain. Cain just glances a big right. Knees to the leg again from the Mexican-American. Knee, knee, punch. Cain on him like white on rice. They separate briefly and JDS punches a bit. Clinch, but another quick break. "Cigano" fights off another takedown attempt. Right from JDS. Clubbing right from Velasquez that floors JDS! Cain is swarming but can't finish the resilient Dos Santos! Dean gives JDS time and he obliges by grabbing a leg. Cain trying for a guillotine. He loses it and punches Jr. JDS is out on his feet again like last fight. Cain with a headkick. 1-2 and another 2 from Cain. More solid punches from the champ and Junior Dos Santos refuses to lose, but he might not have any way to win anymore.
Round four: Dos Santos' movement and defense are gone now. Big punches from Cain and he's landed about 10 clean punches already and we're not even a minute in. Back to the clinch. JDS is trying to swing back when he gets a bit of room, but Cain is leaving him so little. Cain trying to drag JDS down and he cant. Knees to the body and leg again. Cain backs off for a sec and ducks under a couple hooks while landing a left of his own. Back to the grind. Right from JDS and one from Velasquez. Uppercut from JDS hits hard, but Cain eats it and we're back to the grinding clinch. Right elbow from Cain and I think that cut JDS badly. They break and Herb calls time for the doctor to eyeball Junior. This is a solid 5 on the Musashi scale. Big right whiffs from Junior. Jab lands. Left from Cain and a knee and we're grinding again. Elbows from JDS breaks it up. Left from Cain. Cain ducks under. Another short elbow from JDS and that's about the best success he's had since the first three seconds of the fight. JDS looks like hell but we're into the final round.
10-9 Cain, but JDS had some OK moments this round and looks fresher than he did last round.
Round five: The doc is taking a close look here, but lets Junior go. Uppercut from JDS. Left from Cain. Cain with a single and he gets the takedown near the middle of the cage. Jr tries for a triangle, but can't do anything with it. He does scramble back to his feet. Left from Cain in the clinch. Neck punches for Velasquez. Cain is stuck to him like a starving dog on a steak. Elbow from JDS and a left. Cain with a left of his own and back into the clinch. Right from Cain and he re-clinches off a separation. JDS tries for a standing guillotine or D'arce but Cain breaks loose and stands. He starts punching a kneeling Dos Santos and it looks like JDS has just given up. HERB DEAN STEPS IN! We are done here, folks. Cain Velasquez takes the trilogy. Replays show that JDS hit his head when he slipped off that choke attempt and was stunned.
Final result: Cain Velasquez wins via TKO (strikes) at 3:09 of rd 5
Roy Nelson vs. Daniel Cormier
Round one: I just want to say I am truly grateful that the UFC gave us the replay of Amagov/Waldburger. I needed a break after that fight. That was worse than flyweights. Kung fu fighter Nelson in the white and red. Cormier in black. Jacob Montalvo our third man in the cage. Slow start here as they feel each other out. Single from Cormier and he lands it directly into side control. Full guard here. Cradle here from Cormier. DC standing over Nelson and punching down. Nelson with butterfly guard and kicks him off. Roy up to his feet, but Cormier is dragging him down. Nelson stands and Daniel knees him. DC scoops up the left leg as Nelson threatens a Kimura. Cormier on the back, Nelson rotates and Cormier finishes a single. Nelson gets back to standing. They clinch with Cormier pushing him back. Knee to the guy of Nelson. Right from DC. Big knee to the body... and this one to the groin. We have a break in the action. The shin landed clean on the cup on that one. Nelson blocks a high kick and feints forward. DC with a jab. Nelson with a right. Cormier with a solid 2-3. Cormier ducking under the big right.
Round two: Cormier ducks down under a left. Uppercut from Nelson misses. Leg kick from DC, who then feints a takedown and throws a left over the top. Left from Cormier and a push kick. Left to the body from Nelson. Right from Cormier who swarms Nelson and pushes him into the cage. Plumm from DC and a knee plus a 1-2 over the top. Nelson defended that first single, but not the second one, however he stands right back up. Still in a clinch here. DC leaves his head outside for a minute and Roy grabs it, but Daniel gets out. Dirty boxing from both men and Roy gets out. 2-3 from Daniel both land. Right from Nelson. Cormier wings an arm punch that misses. Leg kick from Nelson spins Daniel around. Roy blocks a high kick and moves back from another.
Round three: Leg kick from Cormier and one up high. Overhand right from Cormier. 1-2 from Roy. Not sure why they're booing here in Texas, but I'll just assume it's because Texas. Leg kick from DC. Straight right from DC. Nelson needs to throw if he wants to land something... Spinning back kick and backfist from Cormier. Front kick lands to Nelson's mouth. A right hand hits the same spot as well. Front leg kick from Daniel hits Nelson's ribs. Nelson gets a left in. Cormier kicking up a storm here. Nelson with a jab, misses a right however. Cormier circling away. Teep from DC. Low kick and high kick like a welterweight. Roy drops the hand to try and drag him into a brawl, but DC fights smart and doesn't let Nelson get a still target. Big right from Cormier. They each land punches near the end and Nelson finishes the action with a leg kick that knocks Cormier off-balance.
Final result: Daniel Cormier wins via Unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Round one: Diego in black, Gil in white. Melendez misses a headkick onto the shoulder of Melendez and puts Diego on the ground. Sanchez on Gil's back looking for a RNC. Gil stands and Diego stays on his back. Gil shakes him off and lands a couple punches... My connection hiccups and I miss a bit. 2:40 left and Gil is punching Sanchez. Body punch and a right to the head as well from Melendez. Sanchez gets a kick caught and pushed back into the cage. To no one's surprise, Sanchez is bleeding. They point out the strikes landed and its a landslide for Gil at the moment at 33-6. Uppercut to the body from Gil. Body kick from Diego and a head kick gets blocked. They're standing and laying leather now. Another body kick from Sanchez and they're standing and wanging! Diego drops down and pops back up and they're punching each other like neither person was anything but a punching bag!
Round two: Enormous gash on Diego's eyebrow. Diego with the "C'mon" hand gestures despite being walloped. Rogan is expounding upon the body kicks that Sanchez landed and there may be some validity to that. Rights from Gil and a flurry. Right from Sanchez. Kick from Gil. Timeout from the ref to look at the eye. It's ugly, but the doc says go for it. Diego blocks a body kick and tried for a jump knee, but eats a right in the air. They exchange and both land clean. Right from Gil. Body right from Diego. Diego slips on a kick and he eats a punch before getting back up. Gil pumps the jab and doesn't connect. He does on a short right as Diego came in, though. Kick from Sanchez. Right from Melendez. Diego with a takedown, but "El Nino" stands right back up and hits the 2-end of a 1-2. Sanchez whiffs on a head kick and shoots. Stuffed and a knee from Gil. Diego throwing wild kicks now.
10-9 Melendez, but a much closer round.
Round three: Gil misses a right to the abdomen. Left from Sanchez, but an uppercut misses. They both swing and miss. Melendez throws a 4-piece and lands a couple. Two huge rights from Melendez and that fires up Sanchez. They're exchanging, but traffic is landing mostly one-way. Diego's landing some, but Gil's landing a lot more. HUGE right directly to Diego's mug. Timeout to check the enormous cuts on Diego's face. The doc cleans him up and says to hell with it, let 'em go. Liver kick from Sanchez lands. Right from Gil. Diego misses a headkick, surges with hooks. They land flush on each other and Diego hulks up. Diego BLASTS GILBERT AND HE'S ON THE GROUND! Diego Sanchez looking for a rear naked and doesn't get it! Gil gets out but Sanchez drops for a guillotine. Gil slips out and lands some rights clean. More punches from Melendez and this is a contender for fight of the year. Melendez with the body lock and has Diego's back. Sanchez with a switch and he's on Gil's back! Gil shakes him off and they're still winging. Huge body kick from Diego. They're standing and swinging for the fences as the round ends! Nothing clean lands and the fight is over.
Final result: Gilbert Melendez wins via Unanimous decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)
Round one: "Napao" in blue and white... and a very creepy mustache. Jordan in black and white. Jay Stafin the ref. Gonzaga with a leg kick. Now misses with one. Right from Gabe. Lead right from the lefty, Jordan. Leg kick from Gonzaga. Jordan comes in with a jab and Gonzaga catches him with a right hook that drops Jordan! Gonzaga is swarming with hammerfists and it's AAAALLLLLLL OVER!
Final result: Gabriel Gonzaga wins via TKO (punches) at 1:33 of rd 1
Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez highlights
UFC 166: Gabriel Gonzaga Thinks KO Put Him Back in Top 10
UFC 166: Velasquez vs Dos Santos 3 Post-Fight Press Conference (Complete + Unedited)
UFC 166: Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos Post-Fight Interviews
Photo Credit: USA Today