Velasquez hasn’t been in a lot of precarious positions but nearly saw his then-unbeaten mark blemished against famed Frenchman Cheick Kongo. The heavy-handed striker clipped Velasquez early on in the effort, dropping him and understandably causing some serious concern. However, Velasquez was able to recover, storming back to ultimately take Kongo down to the mat with consistency and punish him from above en route to a clear-cut decision win. Velasquez already held a TKO win over Antonio Silva when the two met last May. However, “Bigfoot” was coming off strike-based stoppages of Travis Browne and Alistair Overeem, showing he was a dangerous foe likely to have learned a thing or two from his previous encounter with Cain. Amazingly, it actually took Velasquez LESS time to beat Silva the second time around, flattening him in just 81 seconds. Also important, the victory marked the first successful title-defense of Velasquez’s career, showing he could definitely perform under the pressure of being champion in spite of the stumble to Junior dos Santos ending his initial run with the belt. Beloved Brazilian Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is one of the sport’s most seasoned fighters with a slew of solid wins to his credit and a ton of BJJ techniques at his disposal. Still, when “Minotauro” mixed it up with Velasquez he might as well have been a fresh-faced newcomer based on the result. Velasquez blasted Nogueira in the first frame with a crisp hook and ended his evening less than three minutes into the match-up. Velasquez’s bout with Brock Lesnar involved two men with a ton of success as collegiate wrestlers battling it out for MMA’s biggest prize. The atmosphere was electric, as was Lesnar’s assault at the opening bell. However, Velasquez weathered the storm and went to work. He clipped Lesnar after an errant takedown attempt left the WWE Superstar exposed, then attacked from the top. Though Lesnar was able to escape, the respite was brief and before long he was back down from another brutal blow. This time there would be no escape with the ensuing TKO netting Velasquez the championship. Brazilian boxer Junior dos Santos was not only the first man to beat Velasquez but he decimated him in 64 seconds. However, it was a completely different story when they squared off for a second time. Dos Santos was unable to pick up a quick KO and instead suffered a brutal beatdown. To his credit, “Cigano” never gave in and kept fighting despite the damage he suffered, but Velasquez whipped him from pillar to post for 25 minutes. Obviously, Velasquez exited their tilt with the belt, setting up what should be an edge-of-your-seat effort next Saturday night in Houston when they conclude the trilogy.
Cain Velasquez was heavily hyped from early on in his career and has lived up to it thus far with a 10-1 mark in the Octagon and two separate stints as UFC champion. He’s quick, powerful, precise, and as dangerous a wrestler as the division has ever seen. Velasquez is out to further cement his legacy as one of the sport’s elite competitors by taking out Junior dos Santos next weekend at , potentially adding another big win to a resume full of them. (Photos by USA Today Sports Images) UFC 166