Lights Out in Houston (UFC 166 Review)

ufc_166One of the best battles in the history of the Heavyweight Division in the UFC would go into its trilogy at Houston. The UFC is made up of great trilogies as it is one of the biggest parts of the fighting world. Trilogies are the be all and end all of rivalries in fighting as that third fight, more often than not, determines who the better fighter is. It is generally between two fighters that are at the top of their game or are fan favorites who people want to see fight. A trilogy comes out because the first fight ended with one man coming out on top but in a fight either so close or so exciting that both fighters needed to get in the octagon again. The second fight would usually see the other fighter win leaving the fight series at 1-1 and leaving many people wondering who the best fighter was if both had won. Then the third fight comes along as the final determination of the rivalry between two fighters. This is what Houston would be privileged to see at UFC 166 as Junior Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez would face off for their third fight capping off the trilogy of a great heavyweight rivalry. In their first fight Cain Velasquez had just won the Heavyweight title when he beat the man nobody thought could lose in Brock Lesnar. He would take on the young up and coming Brazilian boxer in Dos Santos who seemed to be a good challenge for the newly crowned champ. It proved to be a challenge that was too tough for the champion as Dos Santos would take the win with a first round KO. Velasquez would remain near the top of the division and would wait to try to get his title back after beating Antonio Silva for a title shot. Meanwhile Dos Santos would defend his title against Frank Mir and would look to the rematch with Velasquez to try to solidify his place as a champion. The second fight between Velasquez and Dos Santos would be much different as Velasquez would grind out a five round fight that saw Dos Santos seem to be tired almost immediately. Medical conditions caused by overtraining would leave Dos Santos with no stamina in the second fight making him sluggish and unable to use his boxing. Dos Santos would lose the title to Velasquez and once again both fighters would wait to see each other again. Cain would defend his belt against Antonio Silva while Dos Santos would earn his title shot by beating Mark Hunt with a big KO showing he was back. UFC 166 would see both fighters meet for the third time to finally solve the question of who the true heavyweight champion was. Dos Santos would come in to the fight with a better training regimen to ensure that he would not overtrain while Velasquez prepared to meet the power of Dos Santos and avoid a KO loss. Both fighter were fully prepared to bring their best into the octagon and determine who the best heavyweight fighter is in the UFC. Velasquez would come out in the first round with one clear-cut purpose and that was to make sure that Junior Dos Santos was backing up for most of the fight. The plan was on full display from the start as Velasquez would come out swinging and pressuring Dos Santos. He would eat plenty of shots at the start of the fight as Dos Santos would be able to tag the champ and earn his own points at the start of the fight. Eventually the pressure would wear on the challenger though as Velasquez would be able to earn takedowns and would begin winning the standup battle. As the fight progressed Dos Santos would begin to get tired and Velasquez would get bigger and bigger punches through. Dos Santos looked hurt and in the third round Velasquez looked to finish it with a big right hand that would send Dos Santos stumbling. The rest of the third round would see Dos Santos barely surviving the onslaught by Velasquez. Dos Santos was bloodied coming out for the fifth round and Velasquez was looking as strong as the start of the fight. The champion would continue to pressure the challenger and eventually Dos Santos would break as he went for a choke on the champion but would end up with his head hitting the canvas. Dos Santos looked to have hurt himself with the move and would turtle on the canvas leaving no choice but for the referee to stop the fight and give Velasquez the win. The champion would dominate the fight and in the end it was the damage that he did that would force Dos Santos to simply give in after getting hurt again. Dos Santos will take the loss but will remain one of the best heavyweights in the division and will look to work his way back to a possible fourth fight for the title. Meanwhile Velasquez solidified his spot as the best heavyweight in the UFC and would likely find out his next opponent in the co-main event of the evening.

The Co-main event at UFC 166 was a very important fight for the heavyweight division as the #2 ranked fighter Daniel Cormier would take on the #9 ranked fighter in Roy Nelson. This fight was likely for a title shot as if Cormier won he would become the top contender and would likely earn a fight against the winner of the main event. Meanwhile Roy Nelson was looking to prove that he was as good as the top fighters and a win would likely put him near the top of the division and could possibly give him a shot at the title. The talk between these two fighters would last for a few years as both fighters were scheduled to fight earlier but Cormier would drop out due to injury. They would continue to talk for the months leading up to the fight but would finally get their chance to settle their rivalry in the octagon. The fight was a highly anticipated fight as both men had the ability to end fights in big ways. When the fight actually started the power and explosiveness that both fighters have was not on display and would never be on display for the entire three rounds. Instead it was Daniel Cormier pressing Nelson against the fence and dirty boxing. Nelson would be taken down multiple times in the fight and it would keep him cautious of coming forward with the big right hand he is known for. Instead Cormier would win the fight with his control and would not impress many but would keep his ranking at the top of the division. Now the decision has to be made as Cormier is clearly the top contender for the heavyweight title but to fight for the title he will have to take on Cain Velasquez. The reason that this is a big deal is that both fighters are teammates that fight out of AKA and have clearly stated that they do not want to fight each other. Dana White has made it clear that he doesn’t care about training partners or friendship he just wants to see the best fighters fight. With Cormier holding the top contender spot both friends will likely have to fight each other or Cormier will have to give up his title hopes and never fight for the title. It is more likely that the two will meet and that it will be another friendship gone wrong as the next heavyweight title shot seems obvious but is much more complicated for the two fighters.

 

Fight Bonuses

Submission of the Night
On a night full of knockouts Tony Ferguson would stand out earning a first round submission sinking in a D’Arce choke against Mike Rio in the prelims that would earn him an extra $60,000 on the night

Knockout of the Night
John Dodson was coming off of a title shot lost but he would prove to the UFC that his exciting style was not going away as he would earn a big KO against Darrell Montague in a division not known for their knockouts

Fight of the Night
There was no question who would win this $60,000 bonus even before the night began as Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez put on what could be the Fight of the Year in their three round slugfest that ended with Melendez taking the unanimous decision win

 

Fight Results

Main Event:
Cain Velasquez def. Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos [Heavyweight Championship]
(TKO; Rd. 5)

Main Card:
Daniel “DC” Cormier def. Roy “Big Country” Nelson
(Unanimous Decision)

Gilbert “El Niño” Melendez def. Diego “The Dream” Sanchez
(Unanimous Decision)

Gabriel “Napão” Gonzaga def. Shawn “The Savage” Jordan
(KO; Rd. 1)

John “The Magician” Dodson def. Darrel “The Mongoose” Montague
(KO; Rd. 1)

Undercard:
Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch def. CB “The Doberman” Dollaway
(Split Decision)

Hector “Lightning” Lombard def. Nate “The Great” Marquardt
(TKO; Rd. 1)

Jessica “Evil” Eye def. Sarah Kaufman
(Split Decision)

K.J. Noons def. George Sotiropoulos
(Unanimous Decision)

Adlan “Borz” Amagov def. T.J. Waldburger
(KO; Rd. 1)

Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson def. Mike “The Wolverine” Rio
(Submission; D’Arce Choke, Rd. 1)

Andre “Touchy” Fili def. Jeremy Larson
(TKO; Rd. 2)

Kyoji Horiguchi def.  Dustin “The Diamond” Pague
(TKO; Rd. 2)

 

Upcoming Events

UFC Fight Night 30: Machida vs. Munoz (Saturday October 26th; 3:00 pm ET)
Manchester, England (Phones 4u Arena)
Main Event: Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida vs. Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Muñoz
Notable: Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson vs. Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard
Notable: Jimi “Postery Boy” Manuwa vs. Ryan “Big Deal” Jimmo

UFC Fight Night 31: Fight for the Troops 3 (Wednesday November 6th; 7:00 pm ET)
Fort Campbell, Kentucky
Main Event: Tim Kennedy vs. Rafael “Sapo” Natal
Notable: Liz “Girlrilla” Carmouche vs. Alexis Davis
Notable: Ronny Markes vs. Yoel “Soldier of God” Romero

UFC Fight Night 32: Belfort vs. Henderson (Saturday November 9th; 8:00 pm ET)
Goiânia, Brazil (Goiânia Arena)
Main Event: Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort vs. Dan “Hendo” Henderson
Notable: Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira vs. Daniel Sarafian
Notable: Rafael “Feijão” Cavalcante vs. Igor “The Duke” Pokrajac

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