UFC 160: Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos victorious
UFC 160’s incredibly stacked card lived up to most people’s expectations Saturday night, which began with a bloody preliminary fight, and ended with two stellar heavyweight match ups.
In the title fight, Brazilian Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva proved he’d learned from his previous loss to Cain Velasquez by stuffing two takedown attempts early. Bigfoot took a low stance, and looked to keep the fight standing. After finishing Travis Browne and former K-1 fighter Alistair Overeem, it seemed like a smart tactic for Silva. This is where Velasquez gets props.
Nobody claims American Kickboxing Academy member Velasquez can’t strike. He took out Big Nog, after all, who has excellent boxing as it applies to MMA. But Silva, coming off two big finish victories himself, wasn’t ready for the one-two combo that dropped him to the mat.
Silva went for Velasquez’s leg, but the American was all over him. Some may claim an early referee stoppage, but in the slow-mo replay, it’s easy to see the combo sent ripples through Silva’s over-sized head, and that he wasn’t intelligently defending himself once Cain was on top of him, despite the fact he looked coherent and able to solve a Rubik’s Cube as soon as he stood up on his feet.
The disappointment in this fight is neither had broken a sweat.
In the co-headliner, Junior dos Santos used his patented movement, distance, and jabs to keep Mark Hunt out of range and to punish the former K-1 Grand Prix kickboxing champion. A couple of times Hunt backed JdS to the fence and clipped him, but Junior can take a punch.
In the second, Junior took Hunt down, just to make a point. Afterwards, Hunt was a tad cautious about further takedowns, which set him up for more punishment at Junior’s fists. Junior’s body shots, including jabs to the breastplate, took their toll on Hunt. Hunt has terrific speed and power in his hands, though, and as long as he’s standing, he’s a threat, something Stefan Struve and his busted-up jaw know well.
In the third, a left hook by dos Santos staggered Hunt, who managed to stay vertical, and then the Brazilian executed a perfect spinning kick that KOed Hunt before anyone could say “Timber!”
Since Junior is considered one of the best HW strikers in the UFC, many had pondered how he’d compete against a world champion kickboxer. Now we know.
The win sets up a rematch with Velasquez. JdS will win this trilogy bout as handily as he did the first. If he doesn’t, I’ll fire up the Barbie and eat crow.
Canadian TJ Grant made a huge statement by finishing Gray Maynard. Only former champion Frankie Edgar has accomplished that. TJ did it the way he wins all his fights: by fighting the way most mixed martial artists do, but doing it far more effectively. Let me explain.
Some fighters---like Jon Bones Jones or Lyoto Machida---look different than the majority of fighters, and it’s easy to assess their domination. Fighters like TJ grant---or BJ Penn several years ago---take formidable but not unique skills into the Octagon, and apply them with a kind of sixth sense. It’s as if TJ sees the fight at a slower pace than his opponents and is therefore able to pick them apart.
TJ Grant should be on a short list of one for the next shot at Benson Henderson, and may be the next Canadian to earn UFC gold.
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