Size doesn’t matter


Velasquez annihilates Lesnar to capture the Heavyweight Belt

Dietrich Neu

The Honda Centre in Anaheim, Cali., was host to UFC 121 this past weekend. Hyped as one of the best fight cards of the year, it featured an epic championship showdown between Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez. The bout was billed as the biggest heavyweight fight of all time, and it delivered. 

In his pre-fight interview, Cain Velasquez said that he was prepared to fight for the full twenty-five minutes. But, as it would turn out, the former Arizona state wrestler –who gave up almost 40 pounds to his opponent – needed less than five minuets to finish the champion and walk away with the strap in a shockingly one-sided affair.

After the cage door closed, the crowd roared with excitement as Lesnar quickly charged in, attempting to slam Velasquez to the ground. It didn’t work. Cain wowed everyone in attendance by stuffing the massive wrestler’s takedown attempt with relative ease, a feat almost no other fighter has been able to accomplish up to this point.

After Lesnar failed in his initial takedown attempt, both fighters immediately engaged in a stand-up slugfest, something that Velasquez later regretted.

“We knew he would put a lot of pressure in” he said in a post fight interview. “I felt like I got [sucked in] to just throwing punches right away. I should have been smarter then to do that with a guy that big, who throws that hard.”

Cain may have regretted his decision to throw bombs right out of the gate, but it was a strategy that worked well. The discrepancy in striking ability between the two fighters was obvious right away. Although Lesnar had a significant size advantage, Cain clearly had the technical edge in the stand up game.

After impressively thwarting several of Brock’s attempts to take the fight to the mat, Velasquez was able to secure a slick single-leg takedown of his own. While Cain was only able to hold Lesnar down for a short period of time, it was enough to land some effective blows and swing the momentum in his favour.

Brock looked flustered after getting back to his feet. The mammoth fighter attempted yet another takedown, this time Cain shrugged it off with little effort. Lesnar had trouble staying on his feet, and it appeared he was fading.

The crowd exploded in applause as Cain moved in for the kill, connecting with several hard punches before landing a massive knee that dropped the UFC champion.

Feeling that the end was near, Velasquez stayed calm, waited for openings and picked his shots. All Lesnar could do was cover up and take punishment, the champ was clearly done.  With a massive gash under his left eye, blood everywhere, and a viscous onslaught of punches coming his way, Lesnar could offer nothing more. Recognizing Brock was in trouble, referee Herb Dean jumped in to stop the fight at 4:12 of round one.

Cain shocked the world by absolutely dominating his much larger, heavily-favoured opponent to become the new UFC heavyweight champion. Where so many others had failed, Velasquez shined, shattering the widely held belief that this was an era where only massive heavyweights could compete.

The night’s co-main event saw a lacklustre welterweight showdown between the UFC’s recent signing Jake Shields, and long-time UFC veteran Martin Kampmann.

Shields implemented his superior ground technique throughout all three rounds.  Though Shields entered the bout with lots of hype, and a looming title shot with Canadian superstar George St. Pierre, his performance was disappointing.

The arena was flooded with boos as Shields took Kampmann to the ground several times and was content to wrestle his way to an unimpressive win. Shields was visibly fatigued. After the fight, Shields blamed his poor performance on troubles cutting weight to make the 170 pound limit, which resulted in his poor condition.

Shields’ problems cutting weight will have to be solved quickly, however, as UFC president Dana White has already confirmed that Shields will be next to challenge St. Pierre’s welterweight title, despite the abysmal performance.

Diego Sanchez returned to his old ways, earning Fight of the Night honours for his bout with Paulo Thiago. The contest was an exciting, back and forth ground battle that saw Diego escape several submission attempts and implement his ferocious ground and pound.

Canadian Patrick Cote dropped his third straight to Tom Lawler in an unremarkable three round affair, which saw Lawler control Cote on the ground while the restless crowd booed in disapproval.

Although many of the fights during UFC 121 were less than stellar, the lack of entertainment was quickly forgotten once the main even got under way. Velasquez sent shockwaves through the MMA world with his stunning upset knockout of Lesnar to capture the UFC heavyweight title. The top level Brazilian striker, Junior Dos Santos, will be next in line to take a shot at Cain’s title: A true challenge indeed.

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