(Fight starts at the 3:03 mark. Props: YouTube.com/UFC)
With UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez set to make his Octagon return next month at UFC 166, the UFC has released the video of his first-ever title fight, which took place at UFC 121 on October 23rd, 2010. His opponent that night was Brock Lesnar, the reigning champ who had proven his toughness the previous July with a classic comeback win against Shane Carwin. Lesnar was gigantic, athletic, and had legit talent as a wrestler. To stand a chance at winning, Velasquez would need to be faster, more efficient with his striking, and more willing to take abuse before giving it back. And that’s exactly what happened.
After some rather hoarse-voiced introductions from The Buff, Lesnar bull-rushes the smaller challenger right away, hoping to establish himself as alpha-male. And it actually works, at first. Brock stuffs some knees into Velasquez’s midsection (including a flying knee), and Cain has to retreat momentarily. He storms back with some punches but Lesnar responds by nailing a takedown and landing on top — a position that had spelled doom for the majority of his past opponents. But Cain gets to his feet immediately.
Brock struggles to put Velasquez’s back on the mat once again, and momentarily succeeds, but Velasquez is up even quicker the second time, and deftly escapes Lesnar’s grasp. It’s here that the momentum shifts. Velasquez begins popping Lesnar with punches, showing off his significant advantage in striking technique, before single-legging Lesnar to the mat and firing down some punches from above as Lesnar is turtled. Eventually he escapes to his feet, but he looks much worse for the wear, hunched over, dazed, swatting at Velasquez in panic.
Lesnar stumbles across the cage after botching a takedown attempt, and Velasquez moves in for the kill, landing a vicious knee to the body, and following Lesnar down to the mat with punches and elbows. The fight is close to being stopped right then, but Lesnar stays active in defending himself against the onslaught, and manages to make it to his feet for two or three seconds, before Velasquez scores another knockdown and swarms him for the TKO finish.
“Complete, total domination!” Joe Rogan says. “That was a matter of technique vs. horsepower, and technique just won in a big way.”
Since that night, Velasquez lost his title to Junior Dos Santos, beat up Antonio Silva, won his belt back from Junior Dos Santos, beat up Antonio Silva again, and will be fighting Junior Dos Santos for the third time next month just for the hell of it. Hopefully Velasquez vs. Dos Santos 3 will put their rivalry to bed — at least temporarily — and Velasquez can throw down against some new opponents next year.