(Cain Velasquez admires his violence on the big screen. / Photo via Getty)
Suddenly, the rivalry between heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos seems a little less competitive than was hoped for. Many observers were treating this fight as merely the latest engagement in a battle for the heavyweight crown that was to last for years ahead. Less a conclusion to a trilogy and more a precursor to a tetralogy or beyond, it was expected that this fight would see a more competitive affair showcasing the strengths of both men. That didn’t happen. Velasquez absolutely dominated Dos Santos, flooring him in the third before finishing him (sort of) in the fifth. It’s clear now that Cain Velasquez is the unstoppable force. Despite his unquestioned stature as the second best heavyweight in the UFC, Junior Dos Santos is not the immovable object.
Pace and pressure are amorphous terms reliant on context; it’s more difficult to conceive of these finishing a fight than something we can easily discern like a punch or kick. Yet it was the relentless forward motion and unending attack of Velasquez that led to the finish last night and the dominance that preceded it. Dos Santos had his moments; he landed a number of hard shots to open the first round, and landed a nice elbow against the cage to end the second. But other than that, it was all Cain. He didn’t dominate from bell to bell like he did in the second fight, but he wore down Dos Santos over the course of the first two rounds before capitalizing in the third. Velasquez floored Dos Santos with a counter overhand right, and almost finished the fight there; Herb Dean put his hand on Velasquez’ shoulder at one point, but reconsidered.
Things didn’t improve for Dos Santos afterwards, and in the fifth round he went for a desperation front choke. As Cain attempted successfully to escape, Dos Santos rolled, crashing his forehead on the mat. Either disoriented or utterly exhausted, Dos Santos could not continue and Velasquez secured the latest stoppage victory in UFC history. At the undisputed pinnacle of his weight class – the first heavyweight to truly claim this distinction since Fedor Emelianenko – it’s hard to imagine anyone toppling Velasquez soon. Daniel Cormier, who fought earlier in the evening, is his wrestling coach and is moving down to 205. Fabricio Werdum, his presumptive opponent, can submit anyone but will unlikely be able to take the fight to the ground against a wrestler of Cain’s caliber. A future rematch with Dos Santos is not inconceivable, but a different result is at this point. Despite his heart, his chin and his skills, it seems that Dos Santos is not destined to be the foil to Velasquez that we hoped he would be; Velasquez is the heavyweight division’s emperor.
Speaking of Daniel Cormier…