Cain Velasquez, left, defeated Junior Dos Santos on Saturday night to keep… (Pat Sullivan / Associated…)
UFC 166 takes place Saturday night from Houston, Texas. The 12 fight card is headlined by a legacy defining UFC heavyweight title bout pitting champion Cain Velasquez against challenger Junior Dos Santos. Velasquez-Dos Santos is the rubber match in a trilogy of fights between the two dominant heavyweights of this era. Dos Santos won the first fight via first round knockout, with Velasquez taking the rematch via dominant unanimous decision. Dos Santos is 11-1 in the UFC and Velasquez is 10-1 in the UFC, with their only losses coming to the other man.
UFC heavyweight title: Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos
There's a good chance this will be the defining moment of each fighter's career. It highlights a burgeoning rivalry between entrenched Mexican and Mexican-American fight fans and the rapidly growing Brazilian MMA fan contingent.
Round 1. Dos Santos connects with a heavy hook early and appears to stun Velasquez a little. Velasquez drops down and goes for a takedown. Dos Santos blocks it and hammers Velasquez with another big punch. Velasquez clinches again. Velasquez lands a knee to the body. Dos Santos separates and goes for a head kick. Velasquez clinches again so as to not allow Dos Santos to strike at distance. Velasquez gets the takedown halfway through the round. He is in half guard and drops a few elbows from the top. Dos Santos turns over and Velasquez looks to take his back. He can't, and Dos Santos stands back up. They clinch by the cage and trade knees as the round ends. 10-9 Velasquez.
Round 2. Velasquez grabs a single leg and executes a takedown. However, Dos Santos gets right back up in a hurry. Velasquez clinches but then backs off. He throws a long series of punches, with Dos Santos mostly just bobbing his head to aoid as many as he can. Velasquez lands a couple straight punches and clinches again. He lands punches here and there and continues to smother Dos Santos against the cage. Dos Santos tries to throw Velasquez down. They both get up and Velasquez lands a few punches before clinching again. They break and Dos Santos lands a couple of punches before Velasquez returns to the clinch. They exchange punches as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Velasquez.
Round 3. Velasquez grabs Dos Santos and pushes him against the cage. He lands a couple of punches as Dos Santos looks to create a little distance. Dos Santos lands an elbow from close distance and they separate. Velasquez goes for a takedown but Dos Santos blocks it. Velasquez drops Dos Santos with a right punch right by the ear, reminiscent of their first fight only the other way. Velasquez keeps landing punches on the ground and referee Herb Dean is extremely close to stopping it. Finally Dos Santos gets up and is able to continue. Velasquez looks for a choke but can't get it. Velasquez lands a couple hard straight punches. He continues to punish Dos Santos against the cage as the round mercifully ends. 10-8 Velasquez.
Round 4. Velasquez goes right back to work, opening up with heavy punches up against the cage. Referee Herb Dean again appears to be considering a stop to the contest. Velasquez lands a number of punches on Dos Santos and avoids Dos Santos' counters. Velasquez continues to clinch and then will occasionally separate and land punches. Dos Santos is able to land a nice counter in one exchange but Velasquez is getting the better of it by a wide margin. 10-9 Velasquez.
Round 5. Velasquez lands a left hook early and takes Dos Santos down. Dos Santos gets up but Velasquez clinches again and lands punches up against the cage. Dos Santos drops down, hits his head against the mat, eats a couple punches, and referee Herb Dean stops the bout. That was a savage beatdown.
Winner: Cain Velasquez, TKO, round 5.
In preliminary action, Kyoji Horiguchi withstood some early pressure and earned a win in his first UFC fight via second round TKO over Dustin Pague. Andre Fili showed himself to be a young fighter to watch, overwhelming Jeremy Larsen with strikes in the second round after taking the fight on short notice. Tony Ferguson picked up an emotion win, rocking Mike Rio with a punch and then submitting him with a D’Arce choke in the first round. And Adlan Amagov scored a devastating first round knockout over the game T.J. Waldburger.
K.J. Noons vs. George Sotiropoulos
This is a do or die fight for a pair of fighters who have achieved some fame in the sport. Noons is a former EliteXC lightweight champion, best known for his rivalry with Nick Diaz. Sotiropoulos was at one point a top UFC lightweight contender and coached on the UK vs. Australia season of the Ultimate Fighter. Each man is coming off three straight losses and the loser is unlikely to continue in the UFC. Noons' specialty is his boxing while Sotiropoulos' forte is his jiu jitsu.