Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012 | 1 a.m.
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- UFC 155 weigh-in: No holiday cheer from fighters set to compete on year-end card
- Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos have differing views on UFC 155 rematch
- UFC 155 breakdown, betting odds and picks
- Now healthy, Junior dos Santos out for defining moment in UFC 155 rematch
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- Junior dos Santos, Dana White equally pleased after UFC on FOX 1
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A 12-foot mural of Junior dos Santos towered over a beaming Cain Velasquez as the new heavyweight champion arrived at the UFC 155 post-fight press conference.
The belt resting around dos Santos’ shoulder in the picture will soon be stripped, but Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena won’t mark the last time dos Santos’ visage lurks behind Velasquez.
As impressive as Velasquez’s unanimous-decision victory (50-45, 50-44, 50-43) over dos Santos was in the main event, it was merely the second chapter in what’s on the brink of turning into one of the biggest rivalries in UFC history.
“The biggest fight out there for him is Junior dos Santos,” UFC President Dana White said after Velasquez earned back his heavyweight title.
The biggest, however, doesn’t mean the next. If Alistair Overeem can beat Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva at UFC 156, the former Strikeforce champion will receive a shot at Velasquez.
But dos Santos would be a constant topic of conversation in the shadow of Velasquez vs. Overeem, whether he takes a bout in the interim or not.
“We’ll see how long it takes before he’s ready to fight again,” White said of dos Santos. “This isn’t like losing a regular fight, you go home and heal. He got beat up pretty bad tonight. It usually takes a little longer to recover from what he went through tonight.”
Immediately after Velasquez’s 25-minute pounding concluded, an ambulance transported dos Santos to a local hospital. White said dos Santos may have broken his jaw in the second round.
Velasquez so thoroughly dismantled dos Santos in the opening two rounds — knocking down the champion with an overhand right in the first and taking him down repeatedly in the second— that he earned at least one elusive 10-8 score in each frame. Velasquez embarrassed dos Santos every bit as badly as the Brazilian humiliated him with a 64-second knockout at the inaugural UFC on Fox card last year.
If dos Santos’ first UFC loss motivates him half as much as Velasquez’s did, the champion should know to beware.
“It’s a thing of me in the first fight not showing what I could really do,” Velasquez said. “It’s really been in the back of my mind the whole year, knowing what I could do. I just needed to go out there and prove it.”
Velasquez, renowned for his training methods, put himself through the most torturous camp of his career to prepare for the rematch. Velasquez decided he didn’t just want to out-wrestle and use his ground-and-pound to beat dos Santos like everyone expected. He wanted to also beat dos Santos where the champion was the best, in his striking.
Sure enough, Velasquez earned the distinction as the first fighter to ever land triple-digit significant strikes and double-digit takedowns against dos Santos Saturday. He connected with 111 significant strikes and 11 takedowns, according to official UFC stat provider FightMetric.
“We had a purpose in training camp to do that and it translated into the fight,” Velasquez said. “In the fight, to do that high pace of fighting, especially for a big dude, was tough. But I just knew if I put this type of pace on him he would be a little bit worse.”
Dos Santos could never find his boxing range like he wanted with Velasquez applying constant pressure. He looked confused, frustrated and overwhelmed for the entire fight.
Dos Santos expressed as much in a brief statement to the UFC on his way to see the doctors.
“Velasquez is a tough opponent,” dos Santos said. “His grappling is great, and tonight, his striking was great as well. Congratulations to him on his victory.”
Dos Santos will have plenty more words to share and energy to devote to Velasquez in the future. Stay tuned.