The Kawasaki ace changed that Saturday by winning the 20-lap feature in front of a near sellout crowd of 49,834.
Villopoto overcame a slow start – which had him buried as far back as ninth – to lead the final seven laps en route to his 35th career Monster Energy Supercross victory.
“Justin was riding a hell of a race,” said Villopoto. “I have to give it to him, he made it tough. I didn’t get the start I wanted because the (starting) gate was slippery, but I just needed to be patient. The Phoenix (track) gets really slick so I had to take my time and make sure my passes stuck.”
After surrendering the lead to Villopoto, Justin Brayton kept the three-time defending Champ in his sights and took a shot at him on the final lap, but was unable to make the pass stick.
It was Brayton’s second career runner-up finish, and although his first career 450SX victory still eludes him, he was pleased with the result.
“This feels so good,” said Brayton. “The new Yamaha is unbelievable. We did our homework this year. It’s been a lot of hard work, but being up (on the podium) pays off. I was trying to pay attention to what was going on behind me but still look ahead. I did all I could to stay up front, but Ryan (Villopoto) got by me.”
Ryan Dungey finished third and now trails points leader Villopoto by one point as the championship heads back to Anaheim, Calif. on Jan. 18.
James Stewart finished fourth followed by Justin Barcia, Anaheim winner Ken Roczen, Andrew Short, Broc Tickle and Chad Reed.
450SX Main Event Highlights
Justin Brayton, Phoenix, Ryan Dungey, Ryan Villopoto, Supercross, Video