UFC 121 Recap
Brock Lesnar, the biggest name in mixed martial arts, was destroyed last Saturday night by a younger, more skilled challenger in Cain Velasquez.
Leading up to the fight various fans, analysts, and fighters chimed in with their opinions on who would come out victorious. Surprisingly Velasquez, who was a slight underdog per Vegas odds, was the favorite to win amongst those in the know in the sport. Despite Lesnar’s massive size and strength, many noted Cain’s remarkable conditioning and well-rounded ability as the tools he’d use to knock off the dominant champion. For those who picked Brock, the consensus seemed to be that if Shane Carwin couldn’t knock out Lesnar then Velasquez sure as hell couldn’t. Also, Brock was just too damn big, strong, and mean.
The atmosphere for this title match was something to behold. UFC heavily pushed Velasquez as potentially the first Mexican heavyweight champion in combat sports. Some criticized the company for such a market plan but the results speak for themselves. The Anaheim crowd was heavily Hispanic and boisterously behind the challenger. Green, white, and red Mexican flag could be seen all over the building along with folks dawning any attire supporting Cain they could find. He was welcomed with a thunderous ovation while walking to the cage and when announced by Bruce Buffer.
Lesnar came in looking like a surly mountain man ready to inflict some pain. As “Enter the Sandman” blaired from the arena speakers Brock stormed to the ring while being booed vociferously by the fans. The stage was clearly set for memorable clash.
For the 4 minutes it lasted this was an awesomely entertaining battle. The champion rushed forward like an angry bull, attempting to take Cain down immediately. Velasquez was able to block the take down but Lesnar responded by throwing knees, including a jumping one. From there the two threw heavy hands, tagging each other on the chin more than once. The champion got a takedown but Cain got back to his feet fairly quickly, without taking any damage. Lesnar controlled Cain along the fence then got another take down, only for Velasquez to return upright immediately. Back on their feet more hands were thrown. It was then Velasquez’s who brought his opponent to the mat. He got a hold of Brock’s back and delivered some punches while in dominant position. The champion was able to scramble to his feet and out of trouble . . . momentarily. Lesnar kept pressing forward but was then sent stumbling backwards by a short uppercut. Cain saw his opponent wobbling and moved into attack. The Mexican charged in and delivered vicious punch after vicious punch, putting down Lesnar. He ground and pounded away severely bloodying Brock. This resembled the beating Brock took against Shane Carwin, however Velasquez showed no signs of slowing down. Referee Herd Dean told Lesnar he needed to defend himself for the fight to continue. He responded by moving slightly and attempting to create space by pushing off Cain. This was only a temporary solution as Cain kept coming at him. Lesnar laid there bleeding everywhere, trying to hold on until the end of the round but it was clear he couldn’t take any more. Herb Dean saw enough and called an end to the fight. In front of his many Mexican supporters he not only won the title but looked more impressive than anyone could have imagined in doing so.
So what does this mean moving forward? A new star was born in Cain Velasquez but in doing so UFC’s most noteworthy and viewed fighter was beaten convincingly in the first round. Moving forward Cain Velasquez will defend his title against number one contender Junior Dos Santos, likely in February or March. After his performance tonight, Cain should be a sizeable favorite. As for the former champion Lesnar a few options are available. Brock has proven he can match up about just about anyone in the division thus far. A 3rd fight with Frank Mir is an option as they’re 1-1 against each other in two previous fights. Then there is Shane Carwin who Lesnar had a comeback win against in his last title defense. Carwin is currently scheduled to fight Roy Nelson in January so that would have to wait until April or May. Another option that might be overlooked is a new opponent, Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera. Big Nog hasn’t fought since losing to Cain Velasquez in the spring and should be available to fight come February. In terms of a money making fight, Lesnar vs Mir III or Carwin II would be the most profitable but Minatauro presents a new and interesting challenge.
Questions will be asked if Lesnar will lose some of his money drawing power with this defeat, I say no way. The only thing bigger then a big money main event is a big money rematch main event. If Lesnar runs through his next opponent and shows he’s corrected the holes in his game, I would imagine a Velasquez/Lesnar II would do an even bigger PPV number then the expected 1-1.1 million buys expected for this show. Time will tell but Lesnar is still UFC’s cash cow.
For those of you who didn’t see, WWE star the Undertaker was in attendance at the show Saturday evening. Here’s the footage below:
The word going around is WWE chairman Vince McMahon very much wants a Wrestlemania main event of Brock Lesnar returning to the wrestling ring to take on the Undertaker. In the video when you hear Taker say “You wanna do it?” That’s what he is referring to, asking if Brock wants to do that match. NO WAY is Dana White letting his biggest draw go do a fake wrestling match.
The rest of this show wasn’t anything special. Every other fight on the main card and Spike TV televised prelims ended in a decision. Some were more entertaining than others.
Jake Shields’ UFC debut against Martin Kampman didn’t exactly have everyone on the edge on their seats. Shields clearly won the first round by out maneuvering Kampman on the ground with his stellar grappling. In the 2nd Martin took advantage of a fatigued Shields. He was controlling the action until Jake was able to transition and get The Hitman on his back. Close round that I scored for Kampman. The final round was Kampman’s for the taking but his poor strategy may have cost him the fight. He was the better striker of the two and with Shields running on E the smart thing to do would have been to keep the fight standing. So what did the Hitman do, of course he decided to grapple. In fairness to Martin, he did pretty well on the canvas for most of the round that was until with about 2 minutes left in the round Jakes got to dominant position. I still felt Kampman won the round but just for being an idiot, he deserved to lose this fight. Not smart, not smart at all. Shields took the split decision 30-27, 29-28, 28-29.
After getting off to a slow start Diego Sanchez dominated Paulo Thiago on his way to a unanimous decision victory. Check this fight out if you get a chance. Very entertaining bout.
Tito Ortiz was defeated by his former student and trainee Matt Hamill. Tito looked good in the early going, throwing head kicks and being aggressive. In the 2nd and 3rd round Hamill won by out wrestling and grappling Ortiz. This could be it in the UFC for The Hungtington Beach Bad Boy.
News broke this week that the Zuffa-owned WEC will be merging with the UFC. This means going forward all fighters will be under the same UFC umbrella. WEC has 2 shows scheduled for the remainder of the year, November 11th and December 16th. Coming out of the December, the winner of the 155lb title fight between Ben Henderson and Anthony Pettis will take on the winner of the Gray Maynard/Frankie Edgar fight. This will unify the WEC and UFC lightweight title. For the record, I stated after Henderson’s last title defense I’d favor him in a fight against Edgar or Maynard. The featherweight and bantam weight WEC title will be renamed as the UFC titles respectively. There’s also been talk of bring in a 125lb division.
This means there will be a TON of fighters under contract with the company. I’ve gotta say I’ll miss the always entertaining WEC shows. As I’ve stated before these shows never disappoint. UFC has agreed to air 4 shows a year on the Versus network, satisfying their contract with them and Spike TV. Ultimately we the fans will reap the benefits with improved show quality all around. Just about any UFC card with be spiced up with a few lighter weight match ups. You take a fight between 2 lurching heavyweight, put it on the undercard, and replace it with a couple of 145 pounders going at it nonstop for 15 minutes, you can’t lose.
Of course there’s a downside to this, there are going to be quite a few fighters getting let go. UFC has 13 PPVs, 4 Versus shows, and approximately 8 free shows on Spike a year. There are only so many fighters you can use here. WEC stars like Urijah Faber, Miguel Torres, and Donald Cerrone will surely be kept under contract but those guys who have been recently filling WEC show undercards will likely be searching for work elsewhere in the near future.
Everyone is curious about what this means for WEC’s one man wrecking machine, and featherweight champion, Jose Aldo Jr. going forward. The champion will defend his title against up and comer Josh Grispi on the January 1st UFC show. (This fight will replace the previous co-main event of Shane Carwin vs Roy Nelson. Carwin was forced to pull out due to an injury. Nelson has since been pulled off the show). Prior to this fight coming on the table, Aldo was offered a fight at 155lbs against Kenny Florian. Aldo and/or his people turned the match up down saying they’d like another fight at 145 before making the jump in weight. For the record, that would have been a very interesting challenge for both fighters.
In the words of Kimbo “I’m done Gus”
2nd Round Submission:
Jose Aldo rear naked choke on Luciano Azevedo
About the Author
Written by Martin Foster
Martin H. Foster is the author of "The 2nd Round Submission" and host of "Verbal Submission Radio" Follow him at www.twitter.com/MHMFoster