The first ever historic UFC on Fox show lasted an hour, but it only took Junior dos Santos just over one minute to claim the UFC heavyweight title with a knockout of Cain Velasquez.
The build up to the event was something mixed martial arts fans have never seen before. A two hour pre-show on Fuel TV, followed up by 30 minutes of analysis on Fox for the heavyweight title fight that would showcase the two best fighters in the weight class for the promotion’s debut on network TV.
The crowd in Anaheim reached a fevered pitch as dos Santos and Velasquez made their way to the Octagon.
When the two heavyweights finally met in the center of the cage, it didn’t take long for dos Santos to show off his superior striking. Moving in and out with punches, dos Santos never even saw a hint of a takedown from the former All-American wrestler, and he soon turned into a shark smelling blood in the water.
As Velasquez tried to work his head movement, dos Santos uncorked an absolute haymaker, clubbing the now former champion just behind his left ear.
Velasquez fell face first to the mat and dos Santos followed him down, where he unloaded several punches. Velasquez tried to turn away to absorb some of the shots, but instead dos Santos fired even harder like a machine gun rattling off rounds.
Referee John McCarthy saw enough and swooped in for the stoppage.
An emotional Junior dos Santos dropped to his knees and wept, knowing he just captured something he’s been dreaming about for years. Coming from humble beginnings in Brazil, dos Santos is truly a story of rags to riches, tragedy to triumph and now he’s the UFC heavyweight champion.
“I have no words to say what I am feeling. It’s amazing my life, you know? I’ve got a lot of good people around me, thank you very much,” dos Santos said with tears streaming down his face.
While his performance certainly didn’t show it, dos Santos admitted after the fight that he was actual fearful stepping into the cage with Velasquez. An apparent injury suffered in training kept dos Santos from being in perfect health heading into the biggest fight of his career, but his right hand certainly didn’t show any ill effects.
“Cain Velasquez was for sure my toughest opponent, I was afraid to fight with him,” dos Santos said. “He’s very tough and I was not 100-percent for this fight so I was scared.”
After more than a year away from the sport, Cain Velasquez finally made his first title defense in what has been called the biggest moment to date in UFC history. Unfortunately, the former Arizona State All-American came up short in his bid to defend his belt, but paid tribute to the man who now holds the gold.
He also promised to come back and reclaim the title one day soon.
“He kind of messed up my equilibrium. It was a good shot, he has a lot of power. I waited too much for him and he went in and did what he was supposed to do. My hat’s off to him tonight,” said Velasquez.
“I will come back and I will get this belt back, for sure.”
The final time for the first ever fight on network television for the UFC lasted 1:04, and it ended with a knockout.
Was it everything that the UFC hoped for? Maybe not in terms of an action packed war that showcased all elements of what mixed martial arts is made of. That happened one fight earlier in the bout between Benson Henderson and Clay Guida.
Still, a new star has been born with Junior dos Santos being crowned the new UFC heavyweight champion, and a historic moment has now happened with the promotion’s debut on network TV.
The relationship will obviously build as the UFC actually kicks off their seven-year deal with Fox in Jan 2012.