At UFC 155, Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez stepped inside the Octagon to meet one more time with the UFC heavyweight championship hanging in the balance. It was a battle between the two top heavyweights on the planet and sure to provide fans with fireworks.
In a shocking result, the fight waged on for five full rounds, despite a near-stoppage in the first round.
That first round saw Velasquez waste little time in working the fight to the floor. After using his jab to close the distance, Velasquez slammed Dos Santos to the canvas and grabbed side control. Unfortunately for the Mexican stud, Dos Santos easily shrugged him off and returned to his feet immediately.
As the next pair of minutes ticked away, the two engaged in striking exchanges interlaced with Velasquez shooting in for takedowns. However, the biggest moment came when the challenger landed a straight right counter that knocked JDS to the mat.
Velasquez followed his fallen foe to the ground and unleashed a heavy barrage of ground-and-pound. He remained wary of positioning. While keeping Junior's back, the challenger had over/under position and maintained control of "Cigano's" posture until the bell sounded.
Immediately after the horn, the champion was on wobbly legs and had trouble finding his corner. The round looked like 10-8 for Velasquez, although 10-9 wasn't out of the question.
The second round looked very similar, with Dos Santos coming out looking drained and out of sorts. Velasquez was able to repeatedly score takedowns at will, but when the fight was on the feet, he was fresher and accurate in his striking.
A scramble ensured toward the end of the round, and Velasquez threatened with an unsuccessful armbar. The final seconds ticked away and Dos Santos took deep breaths as he returned to his corner.
Another frame down, and it was 10-9 for Velasquez.
The third round was opened with an image of Junior dos Santos and his swollen right eye, although he came out with more pep in his step.
In trying to sit back on his punches and deliver power, the champion was caught with another takedown but then wall-walked into a clinch against the cage.
As the warriors battled against the fence, JDS landed better shots than before, including a short elbow that did damage. However, Velasquez looked fresher and teed off on the champion from short range.
With Dos Santos' gas tank on empty, the heart of a champion was on display. For the first time since the opening round, he was able to think about proper head movement and evaded some of the damage thrown in his direction.
It was another clear round for Velasquez, who led 30-27 or 30-26, depending on how you view the first round.
As we entered the championship rounds, Cigano looked much fresher and Velasquez was finally showing signs of fatigue as he ate body punches from the champion. Velasquez scored his ninth takedown of the fight shortly after to regain control, though.
The fight continued to show us that Velasquez can score takedowns at will, although Dos Santos can return to his feet without absorbing much more damage. When they clinched, JDS attempted to utilize a Muay Thai plumb, while Velasquez seemed to prefer the over/under grip.
Short elbows scored for the champion on multiple occasions in Round 4, which was the only frame that was even close. It still looked like 10-9 for Velasquez.
Five rounds into the contest, Velasquez looked to clinch against the cage, although his own cardio began to fail him. A successful takedown saw the challenger unable to gain top position, and JDS easily climbed back to his feet.
The champion looked for uppercuts in between fending off takedowns that were becoming more and more telegraphed as the fight went on. However, the pace was too much for JDS, and his second wind looked to have run out halfway through the final frame.
A trip from the clinch put Velasquez in top position and throwing shots with only two minutes left in the fight. The champion courageously climbed back to his feet and landed some solid punches after wall-walking up to his feet.
With an ever-growing hematoma above Cigano's right eye, Velasquez landed an enormous kick to the throat with only 30 seconds left on the clock. It wasn't enough for a stoppage, as the two men dirty-boxed against the fence until the final buzzer.
It was a fifth successful round for Velasquez, making it look like a final score of 50-44 for the new UFC heavyweight champion.
The combination of speed, striking accuracy and pressure is what gave Velasquez the edge in this fight. The pressure kept JDS backpedaling while looking for his shots, while his powerful right hand altered the course of this fight early on.