Junior dos Santos Takes Cain Velasquez’s Heavyweight Title

Junior dos Santos

Brazilian challenger gets stoppage 1:04 into the first

Talk leading into the UFC on Fox debut Saturday was that the fight could go 25 seconds, or it could go 25 minutes. It went longer than 25 seconds, but not by much.

With one monster right to the temple, challenger Junior dos Santos dropped Cain Velasquez to the canvas, then swarmed on him with more power shots to the head on the ground until John McCarthy stepped in to stop it. And just like that, dos Santos had his dream in hand – the UFC heavyweight title. The knockout came just 1:04 into the first round.

An emotional dos Santos told Joe Rogan after the fight he had some fears heading into the fight with the champion, who lost in his first defense of the title.

“I have no words to say what I’m feeling,” dos Santos said. “It’s amazing, my life. I want to say thank you to my team, my family. I’ve got a lot of good people around me. Cain Velasquez was, for sure, my toughest opponent. I was afraid to fight with him because he’s very tough. I was not 100 percent for this fight, so I was scared.”

dos Santos, from Brazil, improves to 8-0 in the UFC with six stoppages. He earned his shot at Velasquez on the strength of a decision win over Shane Carwin in June. dos Santos, now as champion, will wait for the winner of Brock LesnarAlistair Overeem at UFC 141 on Dec. 30.

Velasquez, who was fighting for the first time since taking the title from Lesnar at UFC 121 13 months ago, lost for the first time in his career – and was knocked down for the first time in his career.

“I will come back, and I will get this belt back – for sure,” Velasquez said after the fight. “He messed up my equilibrium – it was a good shot. He has a lot of power. He went in and he did what he was supposed to do. My hat’s off to him tonight.”

Velasquez said his game plan was to eventually look for a takedown, using his superior wrestling. But that opportunity never came.

“(The game plan was) establish punches and kicks, and if the takedown was there, take it,” Velasquez said. “dos sSantos has great takedown defense, and (we wanted to) put pressure on him – and I didn’t do that tonight. When you fight against someone as talented as dos Santos, it happens. This is not the end for me. I think you learn a lot from losses. I strayed away from the game plan and I learned my lesson.”

The heavyweight title fight was the UFC’s debut on the Fox network, and came after 30 minutes of pre-fight buildup meant to help introduce casual fans and non-fans not just to dos Santos and Velasquez, but to the sport of mixed martial arts.

UFC president Dana White said his biggest concern was making sure the first UFC broadcast on Fox went off without a hitch. A great fight – and dos Santos-Velasquez was the only one that aired – would be a bonus.

“I feel great. I feel good. It’s behind me. I’ve been waiting for this,” White said. “I said at the first press conference, it can go 30 seconds or 25 minutes. That’s what happens when you put two heavyweights in there that can bang. What I was worried about was getting the show off flawless, and that happened tonight.”

dos Santos said he will return to Brazil for what he anticipates will be a major celebration in a country that now holds three of the UFC’s seven titles. dos Santos joins featherweight champion Jose Aldo and middleweight champion Anderson Silva as Brazilians with UFC belts. Velasquez likely will take time to recuperate a nagging knee injury. Before defending his title against dos Santos on Saturday, Velasquez was off for 13 months, in part to recuperate from shoulder surgery.

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