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UFC Heavyweights Show Resolve in Pushing Through Injuries for FOX Debut

Junior dos SantosCain VelasquezUFC

heavyweight title fight on Saturday night than either of them could have realized. While each was worried about his own lingering knee injury, neither had any way of knowing that the other was going through almost the exact same thing in the opposite locker room.

Dos Santos took the title with a 64-second TKO victory, but less than two weeks ago he could barely walk following an injury during his jiu-jitsu training, he told reporters.

"I got a very serious injury in my knee, my meniscus," said the new champion. "You know, ten days ago I couldn't walk very well. I stayed two days with [crutches], but I asked my doctor to help me because it's the fight of my life and I can't miss that fight."

That doctor, Fabio Costa, told's Ariel Helwani that dos Santos has a large lesion on his meniscus that will require surgery to fix, and which nearly forced him out of the bout entirely.

"Ten minutes before the fight he told us, 'My knee, I have something in my knee.' [We] said, 'Calm down. You are a tough guy. You are our warrior. You can go.' Now he's the champion."

Velasquez's story remains a bit murkier, and the former champ seemed uninterested in shedding much light on the situation. Coming into the bout there were rumors that he'd suffered a rather serious knee injury in training and had almost been forced to withdraw from the fight as well. His camp denied those reports and Velasquez himself downplayed the extent of the injury in the post-fight press conference, saying he was suffering from "just little nagging injuries here and there, just the usual."

But UFC president Dana White appeared to realize that it more than just bumps and bruises, saying that he'd have to wait for Velasquez to return to full strength before he could think about his immediate future in the UFC.

"Like he said, his knee's bothering him. Let him get his knee better and we'll go from there," White said.

As for dos Santos, he was saved by physical therapy and "shots and medicines and lots of things," he said. The injury disrupted his training, he said, and made him apprehensive about the possibility of going five full rounds, so the quick finish was an ideal outcome in his first shot at a major title, not to mention the first UFC bout ever broadcast on network TV.


, and especially for me and for Cain Velasquez. But I'm really happy to win this fight. Now I'm the champion and it's amazing."

After the fight, White pointed to both dos Santos and Velasquez's personal stories of struggles against the odds, saying they were the exactly the tales of resilience and perseverance that the UFC wanted to get across to new viewers in the FOX broadcast.

Velasquez was the son of Mexican immigrants who went on to be an All-American wrestler at Arizona State, he pointed out, and dos Santos grew up in extreme poverty in Brazil where he could have easily turned to crime but "what does he say? 'I used to sell ice creams and newspapers and then I washed dishes,'" White said. "...These are the stories we have to tell to mainstream America."

Just by gritting their way through injuries and making it into the Octagon, both Velasquez and dos Santos continued to show just how resilient and determined they are. In that sense, each man wrote his own story of triumph on Saturday night, even if only of those stories had a happy ending.

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