Velasquez lasted only a minute before Junior Dos Santos finished him off with a right hand to the ear and several punches on the ground, and to the uninitiated it might have looked like Velasquez just isn't all that good. But although we all have a tendency to overreact when a fighter suffers a dramatic knockout loss, let's take a step back for just a moment to remember that Cain Velasquez is really, really good.
I'll be shocked if Velasquez doesn't fight for the UFC title again in the next couple of years. Velasquez will be back.
What makes me so confident in Cain? The fundamental reason is that Velasquez is simply one of the most talented heavyweights that MMA has ever seen. We've been hearing it since 2006, when Velasquez first decided to fight professionally: Everyone in the MMA world who saw him then agreed that he was the perfect physical specimen to become an elite MMA fighter. The strong wrestling base, the speed, the power, the athleticism. This guy is the total package. That hasn't changed because of one bad night against Dos Santos.
The other reason I feel so sure that the 29-year-old Velasquez will be back is the other thing we've heard about Velasquez since Day One: He has a phenomenal work ethic. Velasquez isn't the type to deal with a setback by packing it in. Velasquez is the type to get right back into the gym and immediately start working to get better.
The one caveat I should add there is that I think Velasquez may have been a bit out of shape for this fight. I spoke to Velasquez during his recovery from shoulder surgery, and he mentioned that he wasn't able to run while his shoulder was immobilized, and that as a result he had gained weight. He came in at 249 pounds for the Dos Santos fight -- five pounds heavier than he weighed against Brock Lesnar -- and he looked puffier and less defined than he had previously. A big part of trusting in Velasquez's work ethic is trusting that he'll be in better shape for his next fight than he was against Dos Santos.
But I do trust that, and I trust that Velasquez is going to be competing for a UFC title again. The heavyweight division in the UFC is not particularly deep, and I'd probably pick Velasquez to beat anyone other than Dos Santos right now. If Velasquez gets back in the ring and gets better, there's no reason to think he won't earn a rematch with the man who's just beaten him.
UFC on Fox notes
-- It's too bad Fox decided only to broadcast one fight, because Ben Henderson's unanimous decision victory over Clay Guida deserved to be seen by more than just the hard-core fans who watched the online stream. Henderson put on a great show, and he'll be a tough opponent for UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. Too bad that show was seen only by thousands online, instead of millions on Fox.
-- The ending of the Robert Peralta-Mackens Semerzier fight was extremely unfortunate: The two men accidentally clashed heads, Smerzier took the worse end of the collision, and Peralta was able to capitalize and finish Semerzier off with punches. If referee Big John McCarthy had seen the accidental head butt he would have called a halt to the action to give Semerzier time to recover. But McCarthy missed it, and Peralta got the win.
-- Ricardo Lamas is now 2-0 since dropping down to featherweight this year, and he's looked great in both fights. He forced Cub Swanson to tap out to an arm-triangle choke on Saturday night.
UFC on Fox quotes
-- "I didn't want to follow up. There's no need to be an A-hole." -- DeMarques Johnson on why he let up before the referee stepped in after knocking out Clay Harvison.
-- "I came in here the best I've ever been." -- Dustin Poirier, after forcing Pablo Garza to tap to a D'Arce choke. The 22-year-old Poirier is now 3-0 since dropping to 145 pounds, and I agree with his own assessment that he looked better than ever. He looks to me like a future featherweight champion.
McCarthy deducted a point from Matt Lucas for losing his mouthpiece three times. That's an unusual reason for a point deduction, but it was absolutely the right call: It's every fighter's responsibility to keep his mouthpiece in his mouth, and McCarthy enforced the rule properly. "You've got to keep your mouthpiece in your mouth," McCarthy told Lucas, in an instruction that should be so obvious it doesn't need to be said. Amazingly, Lucas lost his mouthpiece one more time after the point deduction.
Aaron Rosa ended up beating Lucas by majority decision, 30-26, 30-26 and 28-28. I don't know who the judge was who gave Lucas two of the three rounds against Rosa, but that judge couldn't have been more wrong: The issue with the mouthpiece aside, Rosa clearly deserved to win the fight.
During his stint on The Ultimate Fighter, Alex Caceres was known more for his brash personality and his amusing nickname -- Bruce Leroy -- than for his ability to fight. But Caceres moved down to bantamweight and got the first win of his UFC career in a very impressive unanimous decision victory over Cole Escovedo. Caceres has always had a flashy striking style, but what I really liked about him on Saturday was that he showed off a much more sophisticated ground game than we had ever seen from him in the past. Bruce Leroy is heading in the right direction.
In 2007, Kid Yamamoto was considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Since 2007, Yamamoto is 1-4, including a unanimous decision loss to Darren Uyenoyama on Saturday. This fight was a beatdown: The judges scored it 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26, and I agreed with the judge who had it 30-26, as I thought Uyenoyama deserved a 10-8 for the first round. It's sad to say this about Yamamoto, but he just doesn't have anything left. Maybe the UFC will keep him around for one more fight on its Japan card in February, but if so, that will be his retirement match.
Fight I want to see next
Junior Dos Santos vs. Alistair Overeem. The winner of the upcoming fight between Overeem and Brock Lesnar gets the next crack at Dos Santos, and although I have nothing against Lesnar, I think Overeem would be a more interesting fight because I believe Overeem and Dos Santos are the two hardest hitters in the heavyweight division. Overeem vs. Lesnar takes place on December 30, and Overeem vs. Dos Santos is my way-too-early pick for Fight of the Year in 2012.
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