Cain Velasquez regains title
LAS VEGAS -- Cain Velasquez got his revenge and then some.
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Junior dos Santos showed heart but not much else against Cain Velasquez on Saturday night, Franklin McNeil writes. Blog
Velasquez reclaimed the UFC heavyweight title from Junior dos Santos-- the man who took it from him 13 months ago in a 64-second knockout -- in utterly dominant fashion in the UFC 155 main event at the MGM Grand on Saturday.
The fact dos Santos survived all five rounds was an impressive feat in itself, given Velasquez's total domination. The scorecards reflected the one-sidedness of the bout, as two of the three judges awarded at least one 10-8 round.
"This fight was the hardest fight I've ever been through," Velasquez said. "I kept it in my head to 'do it, do it, do it.' All my coaches helped me so much. They pushed me to do this."
Velasquez (11-1) set an unbelievable pace for a heavyweight fight. He hurt dos Santos in the first round with a hard right hand. Referee Herb Dean appeared close to stopping the fight, but dos Santos did just enough to survive the frame.
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Dos Santos (15-2) didn't recover from the damage done in Round 1. The Brazilian came out of his corner in the second with a heavy uppercut, which Velasquez countered with a right hand, then worked into a takedown.
Final scores of the UFC heavyweight bout read 50-45, 50-44 and 50-43.
"His game is very fast and tonight he was better than me," dos Santos said. "He walked forward all the time. His takedowns and grappling game is very effective. Congratulations to him."
The five-round fight couldn't have differed more from the first encounter on Nov. 12, 2011. An overhand right from dos Santos was all it took to see the belt switch hands.
Dos Santos proved to have the heart of a champion, as he stood up to the relentless assault of Velasquez for 25 minutes. As he came out for each round, though, it was clear his legs had abandoned him from the early punishment.
The UFC record for consecutive title defenses remains at two. Dos Santos successfully defended the belt once in a TKO victory over Frank Mir at UFC 146.
"I know [dos Santos] is going to come back stronger, so I have to get better," Velasquez said. "That's the name of the game. It feels so great to get this belt. This is my wife's Christmas present."
Miller outlasts Lauzon
One of the final fights of 2012 was also one of its best.
Miller got off to an incredible start, wobbling Lauzon with a left hook, then opening a deep cut over his right eye with a series of standing elbows. Lauzon survived the round, but the cut poured blood the rest of the fight.
In a somewhat surprising move, Miller elected to take Lauzon down early in the second round after he dominated the standup action in the first. The decision may have cost him the round, as Lauzon swept into top position.
The final round was all heart from both lightweights. An early leg kick from Miller swept Lauzon off his feet. However, Miller refrained from going into his guard. In the final minute, Lauzon slid into a leglock attempt and then a guillotine before time expired.
Miller (22-4) rebounded from a submission loss to Nate Diaz in his previous performance. The New Jersey native came close to title shots in 2011 and 2012, but suffered losses to champ Ben Henderson and Diaz. Lauzon (22-8) drops his 2012 record to 1-2.
Philippou contines his winning ways
Costantinos Philippou extended his win streak to five with a TKO victory over Tim Boetsch.
The fight took an unfortunate turn when it appeared Boetsch suffered an injury to his right hand in the first round. Unable to throw punches with the hand or secure a grip on takedown attempts, Boetsch resorted to pulling guard.
Philippou took advantage, opening a cut on Boetsch's forehead in the second round and then hurt him with punches in the third. Referee Kim Winslow called a stop to the fight at the 2:11 mark.
"I expected to win this fight, but not like this," Philippou said. "I made a few rookie mistakes in letting him take me down, but once we started trading blows back and forth later in the fight, I had him."
Boestch fought well prior to the injury, pushing Philippou against the fence to slow his dynamic boxing game. A well-timed takedown put Philippou on his back in the first round and later scored a knockdown with a front kick to Philippou's chin.
Things went downhill, though, in the second round. In addition to the hand injury, Philippou accidentally poked Boetsch in the eye, causing a brief stop in the action.
Boetsch wasn't the same once the fight restarted.
Philippou (12-2) improves to 5-1 in the UFC. He hasn't lost since dropping a unanimous decision to Nick Catone in his 2011 UFC debut.
Okami beats Belcher again
Some things change, while some things stay the same.
More than six years after they met in their respective UFC debuts, Yushin Okami and Alan Belcher faced one another for the second time and the result was the same -- a unanimous decision victory for Okami.
The rematch was far from enthralling, with Okami showcasing a vastly superior grappling game. The Japanese middleweight repeatedly closed the distance, took Belcher to the ground and passed guard. Judges scored it 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
"The wrestling, striking and clinch game were all successfully implemented in this fight," Okami said. "Belcher is a very tough opponent and I feel that a win over him should allow me to keep challenging more of the top guys."
Belcher benefited from two questionable standups by referee Chris Tognoni in the second round, but was unable to capitalize on them.
He landed a short right hand during that round that caught Okami coming in, but eventually Okami worked into the clinch and secured the takedown. Unable to stop the takedown attempts, Belcher attempted several guillotine chokes during the fight but wound up forfeiting a dominant position in the process.
Okami (28-7) remains one of the most consistent fighters in the 185-pound division, posting the 12th win of his UFC career. He's now 1-2 since falling short against title-holder Anderson Silva in August 2011.
Brunson wears down Leben
Chris Leben returned to the Octagon for the first time since November 2011 -- but he didn't fight much like Chris Leben.
Leben showed little of the competitive fire that has made him a fan favorite for years, dropping a lackluster unanimous decision to Derek Brunson. All three judges scored the middleweight bout the same: 29-28 in favor of Brunson.
Brunson took control of the fight early, taking Leben down and holding him there for the majority of the first round. Leben attempted to set up submissions from his back, but never came close to catching Brunson.
Things slowed significantly in the second round. Brunson, who accepted the fight on short notice, took heavy breaths and a long look at the clock midway through the round. Leben, who hadn't fought in more than a year due to a drug suspension, appeared fatigued as well.
Leben managed to defend a good amount of takedowns from Brunson in the later rounds, but never got his offense going. He stunned Brunson momentarily with a left uppercut in the third and did move forward, but overall fought a sluggish fight.
Afterward, Leben blamed Brunson's game plan for the fight going the way it did.
"Hats off to Derek," Leben said. "He beat me the only way he could. I let him hit me a few times so that I could counterstrike with him and get him to trade with me, but he was able to just hold me down the majority of the fight."
A contestant on the first season of "The Ultimate Fighter," Leben (22-9) has dropped three of his last four fights. The lone victory came in a 27-second knockout over Wanderlei Silva at UFC 132.
Wineland fires past Pickett
Wineland turned his bantamweight fight against Pickett into target practice, snapping his opponent's head back with countless jabs and counter punches en route to a split decision win.
Two judges awarded Wineland's efforts with 30-27 scores. The other, amazingly, scored it for Pickett by a score of 29-28.
"That was a fun fight for me," Wineland said. "My right hand seems to do the most damage and it worked out well for me tonight. I go in there with confidence and after dropping my first two in the UFC, I've won two great fights."
No round was better for Wineland than the first, when he dropped Pickett with a right uppercut and again later in the round with a counter right hand.
Pickett showed heart and continued moving forward all three rounds, but Wineland's balance of jabs and counter punches kept him mostly at bay. He was successful in opening a cut near Wineland's right eye with a left hook in the second round, but that was the most damage the Brit managed.
Las Vegas fans booed certain sequences of the fight, but it was nothing short of a boxing clinic by Wineland (20-8-1). The 28-year-old evens his UFC record to 2-2, after debuting with back-to-back losses to Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez.
Perez impresses again
Erik Perez continues to rack up first-round finishes in the UFC.
The 23-year-old bantamweight racked up his third of the year at UFC 155 with a TKO victory over Byron Bloodworth.
"It feels awesome to get my third UFC win in six months," Perez said. "It just makes me want to get back in the gym and keep training."
Perez landed an early knee to the body that had Bloodworth in trouble immediately. After crumpling to his back from the shot, Bloodworth survived an initial onslaught but couldn't work his way back to his feet.
Perez stacked him along the fence and went to work with elbows and punches. Referee Kim Winslow decided she'd seen enough at the 3:50 mark of the round.
The win extends Perez's (13-4) win streak to eight. The Albuquerque-based fighter now has four knockout and seven submission wins to his credit.
Bloodworth (6-3) falls to 0-2 in the UFC. He dropped his UFC debut via TKO to Mike Easton in October 2011.
Varner outlasts Guillard
Each round was closely contested, which was indicated in the somewhat unusual scorecards. Two judges scored it unanimously for Varner, 30-27. The other saw it vastly different, scoring all three rounds for Guillard.
"I'm happy about my performance," Varner said. "I feel that I was able to dominate the fight wherever we ended up and I'm glad I got the win."
Showing a level of composure he's usually lacked in his career, Guillard got off to a good start targeting Varner's lead leg with kicks and defending the early takedown. Varner closed the round strong though, timing his counter strikes and rocking Guillard with a left hook during a late exchange.
Varner would score an early takedown in the following round, but failed to capitalize on it. Showing improvements in his defensive grappling, Guillard worked back to his feet and rocked Varner at one point with a left head kick.
Each fighter came out eager to win the third. Multiple takedowns from Varner seemed to seal it for him, as he was finally able to get Guillard to the ground away from the fence and somewhat maintain top position.
A scary moment occurred at the end of the fight when Guillard latched onto Varner's back while inverted. Varner dropped to the floor, nearly spiking Guillard's head, but the two popped up unhurt at the final bell and embraced.
It's a big win for Varner (21-7-1), who has won two of three fights in the Octagon after rejoining the UFC this year. He posted a surprise TKO victory over Edson Barboza at UFC 146 in May.
Guillard (30-12-1) drops his second consecutive fight. The 29-year-old had been in title contention as recently as last year, but has dropped four of his last five.
Jury earns decision over Johnson
Johnson was dominated over the course of three rounds, proving to be no match for Jury's ground game. All three judges scored it a clean sweep: 30-27.
"A lot of people didn't give me a chance against someone like Michael, so I came out with nothing to lose," Jury said.
Johnson may have had an edge on the feet, but Jury gave him no chance to prove it. He took Johnson down easily in all three rounds and never forfeited dominant position.
It was obvious Johnson needed a finish in the third and he came out swinging. Jury remained composed, worked into a clinch along the fence and utilized a trip takedown to put the action back on the floor.
Jury (11-0) remains undefeated, despite losing a non-official bout during the 15th season of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series.
Johnson (12-7) loses for the first time since October 2011. He falls to 4-3 overall in the UFC.
Duffee returns with big TKO
Three years after he burst onto the scene with a 7-second knockout at UFC 102, 27-year-old heavyweight Todd Duffee proved he's still a dangerous prospect.
Fighting in the Octagon for the first time since 2010, Duffee scored a TKO victory over Phil De Fries just two minutes into the first round.
Early in the first, Duffee landed a right uppercut that had De Fries visibly dazed. He capitalized with a follow-up straight right to De Fries' temple that nearly put him out.
De Fries stumbled back to the cage where Duffee unloaded a flurry that brought referee Yves Lavigne in to stop the fight at the 2:04 mark of the round.
"It feels good to be back in the UFC," Duffee said. "I knew I had to win, but I wasn't too worried about how. I missed the fight feeling that you get when you're standing across from your opponent and it felt awesome to get back in the Octagon."
Duffee (8-2) instantly becomes one of the most interesting prospects in the heavyweight division. Expectations were high when he knocked out Tim Hauge in his UFC debut, but fell significantly after back-to-back knockout losses in 2010.
De Fries (9-2) loses for the second time in his UFC career. The submission-based heavyweight is 2-2 overall in the Octagon, with both losses coming via first-round knockout.
Garcia drops four in a row
Leonard Garcia set a furious pace as he's known to do, but couldn't put an end to what's now become a four-fight losing streak.
Max Holloway, who accepted the fight on short notice, did just enough to edge Garcia via split decision. Two judges scored the featherweight bout 29-28 in favor of Holloway. The third had it 29-28 for Garcia.
"I definitely believe I won the fight," Holloway said. "We had a good game plan and I was able to leave with the win."
Holloway dropped Garcia in the first round with a left hand, but that was the only time he appeared close to a finish despite landing consistent shots throughout the fight.
Garcia's best weapon may have been his straight right, but really it was his aggressive style that nearly won him the fight. Even though the two set a barnburner-type pace, Garcia yelled at Hollway to "come on," when his opponent took a short breather in the third round.
A fan favorite, Garcia (15-10-1) has now gone two years without his hand raised. He falls to 2-6 overall in the UFC.
Moraga chokes out Cariaso
It was a close fight throughout, with both fighters doing their best work on their feet. Moraga took advantage of his size advantage, keeping Cariaso on the outside and catching him with counter left hooks whenever he tried to close the distance.
The end came just more than a minute into the final round, when Moraga caught Cariaso in a guillotine choke during a scramble against the fence. The official time was 1:11 of the third round.
"That's one of my stronger positions to put opponents in, so I knew I could surprise him with it and lock it in," Moraga said. "Any win in the UFC is good, but I like to win impressively and I feel like I kind of did that."
For Moraga (13-1), it was his fourth win of 2012 and second in the Octagon. A teammate of UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson, Moraga has now won seven consecutive fights. Cariaso (14-4) loses for the first time in four fights.
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