It’s been 13 long months since Cain Velasquez lost the UFC heavyweight title to Junior Dos Santos, and it’s been eating at him every waking moment until he stepped into the cage on Saturday night at UFC 155.
The last fight lasted all of 64 seconds with Dos Santos landing a thunderous punch early, and finishing Velasquez with strikes.
This time around, Velasquez had no plans of letting the match end that quickly, much less let Dos Santos control any aspect of the fight or even catch his breath.
One of the criticisms that Velasquez had coming out of the last fight with Dos Santos was his own shortcomings when it came to following the game plan set forth by his coaches. This time around there was no problem of that because Velasquez came out and put constant pressure on Dos Santos, and never let him get the distance needed to land a big punch.
Dos Santos looked confident early however shrugging off a few of Velasquez’s takedown attempts, but it was almost like a cat playing with a mouse already in a trap because in a matter of moments the entire fight changed for good.
Velasquez landed a sizzling overhand right that rattled Dos Santos on the jaw and sent him crashing to the mat. From that moment on, Velasquez never relinquished control and for the first time in his UFC career Dos Santos looked human.
The remaining 4 rounds were all similar in nature as Velasquez continued to pressure and hurt Dos Santos with his wrestling and relentless attack. The former champion assaulted Dos Santos in every facet of the game, battering him on the feet and then mauling him with wrestling and grappling on the mat.
“A lot of it in my head was just keep the pace, keep a strong pace,” Velasquez said after the fight. “Pressure up top, look for stuff on the legs, and if the legs didn’t open up the stuff up top would be back there, so just always up and down, never really slowing down.”
Credit has to be paid to an exhausted Junior Dos Santos who stuck around for all 25-minutes despite appearing winded after a very tough and arduous first round.
When it was over, Cain Velasquez stood proud knowing that he had re-captured the gold belt he had lost a year earlier, and he did it by absolutely dominating the man who took it from him.
“The whole year, this fight is the hardest fight I’ve ever been through, I was so tired but I kept thinking in my head just do it, do it, do it,” said Velasquez while he admired the heavyweight title belt back around his waist.
“It feels very good. I just know he’s going to be back stronger so I have to get better, that’s the name of the game. Always getting better.”
Never one to make excuses, it’s hard to ignore that Velasquez came into his last fight with Dos Santos well under 100-percent health, but there was no clearer vision of that than with what he was able to accomplish on Saturday night.
Velasquez put on a blistering performance over 25-minutes that clearly showcased the kind of dominant and staggering style that led him to the championship in the first place.
Following a tough loss, Dos Santos promised to return to top form and greet Velasquez for a trilogy fight at some point down the road.
“His game is very effective, and tonight he was better than me,” said Dos Santos. “I’m gonna come back and I’m gonna take my belt again.”
Velasquez explained after the victory, that it was a total mindset of domination from before the fight even began. From the first time he stared down his opponent this week, Velasquez showed a killer instinct and then on Saturday he unleashed hell on Junior Dos Santos.
“At the weigh-in, him putting the fist in my face, I needed to show him this is a fight, I’m going to come at you,” said Velasquez. “Same thing with him going up to the middle of the ring and saying he’s going to put you down. No, you’re not. I’m going to go up to the middle of the ring, and I’m going to show you.”
Show him he did and now Cain Velasquez stands back atop the UFC heavyweight division as champion.