The UFC 166 card brought plenty of excitement to the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. But when the dust settles from all the madness (and Diego Sanchez and Junior dos Santos stop bleeding) there are a few fighters that won in especially convincing fashion.
Each fight presents the opportunity to take a step up the ladder, but sometimes fighters go up a few rungs with just one win. Every now and then one win can mean a whole lot more than just taking a step up the ladder. Some wins are emphatic enough to put the rest of the division on notice.
Here were the biggest statements made at UFC 166 by the card's biggest winners.
Cain Velasquez May Be Unstoppable
Yes, Cain Velasquez emerged as the victor in his trilogy with former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos. That's impressive in its own right. But the way he did it should make him the heavyweight champion in the rest of his title defenses for the foreseeable future.
The champion swarmed dos Santos early and often. While "Cigano" was able to land a few single shots here and there, Velasquez's ability to close the distance and wear down his opponent was simply too much for the second consecutive bout between the two.
However, the bigger question is, who can challenge Velasquez in the heavyweight division?
As ESPN Stats & Info pointed out, Velasquez now has the most KO/TKO victories of anyone in the division's history. And now that includes the No.1 contender in the division.
Cain Velasquez def. Junior dos Santos by 5th-round TKO. This is his 9th UFC win by KO/TKO, the most of any UFC HW all-time #UFC166— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 20, 2013
If dos Santos isn't quick and athletic enough to deal with Velasquez's cardio, wrestling and dirty boxing, it's hard to think of anyone else that has a legitimate chance to unseat the champion.
Gabriel Gonzaga Shows He Deserves One Last Shot in Spotlight
When Gabriel Gonzaga made his UFC return in Jan. 2012 against Ednaldo Oliveira in Brazil, it really felt like a one-off appearance for a familiar Brazilian face on a local card. His subsequent victory over Ben Rothwell at UFC on FX in Brazil had a similar feel.
After his loss to Travis Browne, it felt like Gonzaga was doomed to the life of a gatekeeper for the rest of his career.
With Gonzaga's demolition of Shawn Jordan at UFC 166, paired with a first-round knockout of Dave Herman at UFC 162, it's feeling like Gonzaga may be relevant yet again.
As Dave Doyle of Yahoo! Sports points out, we've seen this from Gonzaga before:
Gabriel Gonzaga doing what Gabriel Gonzaga does against the lesser-ranked guys. Guess he's earned another crack at a big name.— Dave Doyle (@davedoylemma) October 20, 2013
Still, four finishes in five UFC bouts since returning is nothing to sneeze at. Napao deserves one more shot at the big time before becoming a permanent gatekeeper.
Hector Lombard May Live Up to the Hype as a Welterweight
When Hector Lombard first came to the UFC back in July of 2012, he had the reputation of a one-man wrecking crew. With 17 wins by knockout and a winning streak that stretched back to 2006, it was expected that he would bring his explosive brand of violence to the UFC.
Well, he didn't.
Tim Boetsch and Yushin Okami took split decision victories between a knockout victory over Rousimar Palhares to make it appear that Lombard was much more style than substance as a middleweight. His move to welterweight appears to have changed that.
Going down to 170 pounds for the first time in his career, Lombard swiftly took care of UFC veteran Nate Marquardt via KO at just 1:48 in the first round.
The dominant showing was a stark reminder to the rest of the division why Lombard was a feared addition to the organization. His reign of terror may continue now that he seems to have found a weight that makes his power even more dangerous.