Dos Santos stuns Velasquez for UFC title
Cain Velasquez’s reign as UFC’s heavyweight champ lasted 13 months, a span that lacked a title defense because of his recovery from shoulder surgery.
His first attempt at defending that belt was over not long after it started.
Junior dos Santos used an overhand right that dropped Velasquez, who was subsequently pummeled with lefts and rights before the fight was stopped 1:04 into the first round in the UFC on FOX debut at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., on Saturday night.
"It was my fault," Velasquez said in the post-fight news conference. "I didn’t pressure enough. The game plan was to go in there and pressure. I waited back too long. I was playing dos Santos’ game."
Santos has some of the quickest fists in the UFC, but his ground game — while capable — has been largely untested. But with one quick punch, dos Santos neutralized Velasquez, a former All-American wrestler at Arizona State who would have had the edge on the mat — if he were lucid.
"I have no words to say what I am feeling," dos Santos said from the octagon as tears began to well up in his eyes. "It’s amazing, my life. I want to say thank you to my family. I have a lot of good people around me."
Velasquez said he "saw everything" as he fell to the mat, but his body "wasn’t really reacting." He said he agreed with referee John McCarthy’s decision to stop the fight.
This was the second time in the past three heavyweight title fights that it failed to reach the second round. Dos Santos will face the winner of the Brock Lesnar-Alistair Overeem bout at UFC 141 on Dec. 30.
"I don’t have any preference," dos Santos said on whom he’d like to face. "It doesn’t matter who my next opponent will be. I am not thinking about that now. I will go back to Brazil for a big, big barbecue for my family."
Asked whom he’d pick to win, dos Santos said Lesnar.
Dos Santos said during a broadcast interview that he was "not 100 percent" and hinted at a knee injury during the post-fight news conference. There had been rumors that Velasquez had suffered a knee injury of his own in training, but he told reporters afterward that he had nothing more than usual nagging injuries.
This was the first loss for Velasquez — who beat Lesnar in the same arena in October 2010 to earn the heavyweight crown — in 10 professional fights.
"I think you learn a lot from losses," said Velasquez, a California native of Mexican descent who had the support of thousands of fans at Honda Center who displayed the colors of the Mexican flag. "From wrestling so long, we have losses throughout our careers. This is no different. I strayed from the game plan. I will learn not to do that again, even for a little bit."
The main event was originally scheduled to headline next Saturday’s UFC 139 card, but was moved up to headline the initial FOX broadcast. The future UFC events on FOX will feature multiple bouts.
There were eight fights on the undercard before the main event got under way. Benson Henderson defeated Clay Guida by unanimous decision in the undercard headliner, which is expected to lead to a shot at UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar when the UFC returns to Japan on Feb. 25.
Dustin Poirier moved toward featherweight contention with a submission win over Pablo Garza, while Ricardo Lamas came back after falling behind early to submit Cub Swanson in their featherweight encounter.
DaMarques Johnson scored a first-round TKO just 1:34 into the first round of his welterweight bout when he knocked his opponent Clay Harvison to the canvas and pounced on him, raining strikes down before the referee called the bout to a halt.
In his first UFC bout, Darren Uyenoyama beat MMA legend Kid Yamamoto by decision in a bantamweight bout. Robert Peralta scored a third-round TKO over Mackens Semerzier in a featherweight encounter, while Alex Caceres, Mike Pierce and Aaron Rosa all scored victories in their bouts.