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« | Home | »

Cain Velasquez’s really legendary night at UFC 121

By Zach Arnold | October 23, 2010

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That was about as great of a showing as you could have to make a statement that you are the best heavyweight in Mixed Martial Arts. He totally blew me away in how thorough he finished off Brock Lesnar. That was a man-sized beating and for casual fans who didn’t know who Cain Velasquez was before the fight, their jaws just dropped.

Now, with that stated, I don’t want to hear anything about Cain Velasquez winning because of his race/ethnicity like I unfortunately expect to hear in some media circles soon. No, the man won because he’s a really, really good fighter and he’s the face of a new generation of MMA Heavyweights that is starting to take over from the old guard of last decade. He faces Junior Dos Santos next Spring and I am so looking forward to that fight.

As for Brock Lesnar, he gets Frank Mir in a trilogy match. As the Japanese would term it, this will be a ‘survival match’ where the winner stays afloat and the loser starts wondering how much longer they have to stay around in the sport.

Jake Shields looked painfully tired from a bad weight cutting experience and did himself no favors in his fight against Martin Kampmann. Kampmann exposed some chinks in the armor tonight. I cannot stress how many angry notes I’ve gotten from readers not only about Shields winning but about the variance of the judges’ scores for that fight. There was a line of thinking in media circles that Shields would be a much more interesting fighter without that Strikeforce elbow-ban-on-ground rule. Well… Jake can now join Jon Fitch in Dana’s Doghouse. Who will end up as the challenger to St. Pierre/Koscheck? UFC cannot be happy with the way things played out here tonight.

Speaking of Koscheck, as you probably heard during the UFC 121 prelims on Spike he absolutely got booed out of the building. Had a few people at the show say that Koscheck was as hated as anyone else at the show.

No surprises in Tito Ortiz losing to Matt Hamill.

Court McGee was outclassed in every way against Ryan Jensen except when it came to guts and heart. He took a beating and then Jensen did what he is wont to do and that was allow his opponent to come back and finish him off.

Patrick Cote laid a huge egg against Tom Lawlor. Diego Sanchez was able to revive his prospects, though I don’t like him talking about shifting back and forth between 155 and 170.

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 36 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

36 Responses to “Cain Velasquez’s really legendary night at UFC 121”

  1. cutch says:

    There was talk of Sheilds having a back problem before the fight, maybe that’s why his gas tank wasn’t great?

  2. robthom says:

    Is it just me or was that timer way to far towards the middle of the screen?!
    I found in terribly distracting.
    The way it was placed always had it overlapping the left opponent on the screen.

    I love Gonz, but this is getting ridiculous.
    If he still cant figure out all the things he’s doing wrong by now then he just isn’t perceptive enough to ever get much/any better.
    And if thats the deal then he’s kinda just taking up space now.

    Shame to see Ricco back with tito.
    I was hoping Ricco was making some progress again losing weight and everything, but if it means hanging out with tito again then no thanks.

    I smiled when tito threw all those strikes in the first round but somehow got himself a cut and a mouse at the same time.
    I don’t even remember seeing Hammill throwing much of anything those first few minutes.

    Looks like going back to Jacksons did Diego a world of good.
    He never should have left.
    And that was a name brand win too. Almost makes up for that embarrassment by Penn.
    (And he also just beat the guy who smoked Koscheck, which should feel good.)

    I like Shields because he’s from the North like me, but gosh is he boring to watch.
    Kampmann did a hell of a better job then Hendo did.

    The way goldy keeps saying “MEKS-EH-KIN” is kinda funny and a little creepy.

    Too bad about the Brock, I guess the beard was just too awesome.
    Nice afterfight interview.
    like Goldy said, classy.

    Congrats to Cain.
    I didn’t think that he couldn’t win, but I didn’t expect him to maul the Brock and bust him open like that.

    Real good main card, no filler.
    I’d give it an A, maybe A- for Sheilds.

  3. EJ says:

    If i’m Dana I give Fitch a shot at Shields to truly test him that way there will be no question who’s the real No. 1 contender for the winner of GSP/Kos.

    • klown says:

      I like that fight for two reasons. First, I dislike rematches for the belt, especially when there was no controversy whatsoever about the winner. It makes sense for fighters who’ve already fought for the belt and lost to have a longer road back to contention than contenders making their first run at the title. Second, they are both boring fighters, so pitting them against one another will, at worst, eliminate one of them from contention, and at best, create an exciting fight between them.

  4. Bryan says:

    As others on different sites pointed out, it was quite telling that the winner of what was pretty much the co-main event didn’t get a post fight interview.

  5. I took a lot of crap for saying that Lesnar wasn’t so impressive in the performance against Carwin. Didn’t forget that. Not going to now either after seeing most of my criticisms justified in HD. Lesnar’s chin might not be Sherman Pendergarst level, but it ain’t steel. Worse yet is the way he retreats from a punch. Guys who have long success in the sport and are wrestlers shoot when they get hurt to buy time. Its the MMA equivalent of clinching in boxing to buy some time. Lesnar? Lesnar runs to a corner (or tumbles, as it was tonight) and proceeds to leave himself open for GNP. That might work against someone who goes wild, but Cain isn’t that sort of guy.

    I won’t be surprised if Shields gets it anyways.

    • The Gaijin says:

      Lesnar has Sapp-itis. He’s a bully who does awesome when he’s in the lead but totally shells up when he takes punishment.

      Everyone who tried to deny this when he fought Carwin but lucked out b/c Carwin gassed just got their reality check.

      • The Gaijin says:

        And let me clarify – I think Brock is a great, talented fighter and definitely top 3-5 in the world and I’d take him in a fight against 98% of the hw’s out there…but there’s just no real training you can do to make a guy like getting hit.

        He’s not a chicken or scared, nor do I think he’s got a bad chin. Some people just do not like getting hit – and he’s one of them. All the talent and god given gifts of size and athletic ability just won’t fix something like that overnight.

        • If a boxer drops like that repeatedly from punches, people will just admit the dude can’t take a punch. The funny part is that people are so brainwashed in believing that they must support Lesnar in some way to be even handed that you can’t make such an obvious observation. The guy can’t take a punch. Not only can he not take a punch, he reacts terribly to them.

          Like I said before: Funny to see all the people who were so convinced that Lesnar’s performance against Carwin was one for the ages trying to sweep this under the rug.

        • edub says:

          I guess I’m one of the ones that can still give credit to Brock for the comeback against Carwin. I don’t think this loss takes away from that performance at all.

          And most people online saw the things that happend in the Carwin fight for what they were IMO. That’s why this fight was pretty much 50/50 for predictions online when lesnar had the size/big fight experience advantage.

  6. 45 Huddle says:

    1. Cain Velasquez was so impressive. He is so dynamic for a Heavyweight. He is like Fedor 2.0. If Brock won tonight, we would be looking forward to Lesnar/JDS and thats about it. With Cain winning, the division becomes very fresh. So many good combinations for the next year or so, and then hopefully a few of the prospects work their way up and add themselves to the mix. I love the idea of Lesnar/Mir 3. Plus Carwin can get right back into the mix if he wins on New Years.

    2. Hopefully this will shut people up about the need to split the Heavyweight Division into 2 weight classes. This division has always been dominated by 235 pound fighters. Lesnar was a blimp but hardly the norm. Most of the early UFC Heavyweights ended up dropping to LHW. Pride’s two best were Nogueira & Fedor who were both in that 235 pounds area. And now Cain is the #1 fighter in the world around that same weight. Being bigger then that can sometimes be more of a hinderance then anything else.

    3. Shields looked bad and gassed. He wouldn’t even tell Ariel a few days before the fight how much weight he was going to cut because it was that high. I agree with the post above that says we should see Fitch/Shields next. Let’s just get that boring fight over with and eliminate one of them as a contender. Not sure who they would put in there in the meantime, but I’m sure they can find somebody.

    4. Did you see the oviation for Jake Shields when he came out? It was basically silent. And that is why you will not see guys come into the UFC and get a title shot right away. Nobody knew who he was. People in the MMA bubble who try and act like Strikeforce has some sort of exposure are really kidding themselves. Shields was on CBS more then once and still the UFC fans had no clue who he was. The people watching those programs are not UFC fans. They are casual network TV viewers. The UFC fanbase is very loyal but knows very little about the overall sport of MMA.

    5. Martin Kampmann fights dumb. Sometimes he wins, but this is like the 4th fight I can remember where he went in there with a bad game plan or gave up position doing stupid things. The fights I can remember him doing this are: Shields, Daley, Condit, & McFedries.

    6. Diego Sanchez will needs to move back down to Lightweight. He is always fun to watch.

    7. Paulo Thiago was a one hit wonder. He doesn’t belond on the main cards anymore. He doesn’t have good enough cardio.

    8. Tito Ortiz looked slow and old. He got a great payday because he is probably on PPV bonus. I think it’s time for them to just use him up as much as possible, make sure every fan knows he is completely finished…. Use every last ounce of his name value (plus some)…. And then release him so he has no value to anybody else.

    9. Gabrial Gonzaga needs some cardio as well. Probably time to cut him.

    10. Brendan Schaub continues to look better and better.

    11. The theater put the show in a much bigger theater. It was about half filled. The audio was better but still too much in the front. For UFC 118, the fans got there early. For this show, it was basically empty until 10 minutes before the show and then almost completely empty again as soon as the main event was over. This was a very different fanbase, much more casual.

    12. Overall, it was a good night of fights. Despite many of the main card fights going the decision, none of them seemed boring except for the Shields fights.

    • fd says:

      Actually, in a Hendo interview he mentioned that guys with PPV bonus contracts don’t get the bonuses unless they’re main eventing or co-main eventing. So in fact Tito probably didn’t get a bonus last night.

  7. Mr. Mike says:

    The Diego Sanchez/Paulo Thiago fight was the best of the night in terms of exciting back and, forth action with both guys unafraid to use their strengths. A nice mix smart striking, smart grappling. Thiago had a nice Tomoe Nage from his back, only to have Sanchez get the top again. His attempts at submissions were nice as well.

    Some of the Judo guys (including me) saw a number of good opening for hip tosses, but those never came. Brock could have used a Randy Couture type greco attack, which would have saved him from gassing out on the double/single leg takedowns. Velasquez was able to neutralize Lesnars folkstyle wrestling.

  8. Tradition Rules says:

    Well, I was pulling for Cain to win tonight.

    I also thought he COULD win by knockout or TKO,…but I was thinking late 2nd round or 3rd round,….but highly unlikey.

    Even thought I wanted to see Cain win and look great in the process, I would NEVER have dreamed he would have looked so dominating in a win over Brock. 🙂

    One of his strengths this fight was how calm he stayed when Brock rushed and thrust him into the cage and tried to take him down. Not to mention, how quick Cain was able to get to his feet when he was both taken down & thrown down,…and he made it look so easy!

    I did like the flying knee from Brock though.

    I really enjoyed the Sanchez/Thiago fight. Very competative and in the early stages Thiago seemed to have really worked on his wrestling after his loss in his last fight. But his body didn’t seem to be fully adjusted conditioning wise to so much wrestling. Maybe with a bit more time on the mat…

    I saw the broadcast of the Gilbert Yvel fight,…holy shit! I don’t think much of Yvel, but he looked so out off shape, I wouldn’t have recognized him if they didn’t put his name on the screen. I think he will certainly be on the end of a pink slip.

    Shields looked so gassed at the end of the 2nd round and the entire third round. I have a strong appreciation for his wrestling/grappling ability, but I think UFC was on the losing end by “stealing” him from Strikeforce.

    I felt Kampmann won that fight, 2nd & 3rd round, but the crazy scoring (30/26 on one card I believe?) had me picking my jaw up off the ground.

    Overall, I really enjoyed this card.

    I can’t wait to see Cain’s next fight, as he has said in the past he wants to improve his kickboxing/muay thai and his submissions.

    When 45 huddle says he is so dynamic for a heavyweight, well I felt that way when I saw him for the SECOND time. He has improved so much from the first time I saw him,…and every match afterwards.

    Congrats to the new champ! 🙂

  9. liger05 says:

    Surprised with brock losing? No way.

    Brock v Carwin got lucky. He should of been stopped and in that fight the dude just turtled up after getting hit. Brock’s standup offence and defence just isnt that good.

  10. CapnHulk says:

    Pretty good card, but man, I hate that race is even mentioned at all. It shouldn’t matter where you’re from or what color your skin is when it comes to fighting. A good fighter is a good fighter.

    I guess the whole “content of your character” idea doesn’t sell tickets though.

    What camp is Gonzaga with? He seems to look worse every time he fights.

  11. mma clothing says:

    He destroyed Brock which was amazing, then again so did Carwin just Cain was more sensible!

    • Fred says:

      Watching the fight again, Lesnar wasn’t as bad as it seemed, and he has learned a lot from the Carwin fight. He didn’t duck and cover like he did in the exchanges with Carwin, actually trying hard to keep his footwork and head movement. After Cain’s takedown in particular, you can see Brock try to reset and work some combinations.

      The real issue was just as Rogan said– technique over athleticism. Brock clearly doesn’t grasp how to use his enormous reach advantage to control the octagon, as he allowed himself to get backed into the cage for all but his first charge. Contrast that with Cain’s striking approach– on Brock’s ill-fated final takedown attempt, for instance, Cain was able to tag Brock diving in on the leg because he threw a beautiful straight right/left hook combo.

      It was the same technical disparity on the ground too. When Cain was taken down the first time, he used textbook defensive jiu-jitsu to create space and get back up, and on the second (brief) takedown it was obvious that he’s well-drilled on how to take a fall. Brock, on the other hand, turtled up when taken down the first time. Then after the knockdown, all he does is lay there covering his head with almost no hip movement (as in the Carwin fight). I actually really thought Cain was going to go for the armbar, which was about as open as it could ever be. Bottom line: Cain’s AKA coaches have a reason to be as ecstatic as they seemed after the fight.

  12. david m says:

    I think J2S is going to beat Cain. Junior is a much better striker, a better athlete, and has a much better beard. Further he has good takedown D and is probably pretty good at jiu-jitsu after a number of years with the Nogueira brothers.

    That being said, Cain’s performance was awesome; I thought after the first takedown that Brock would be able to have his way with Cain, but seeing how quickly Cain got up, I started to think this could be a long night for Brock.

    Kampmann won the fight with Shields in my opinion, but he is a complete idiot for the fact that it was even disputable. He was killing Shields in the 3rd, but because he is so goddamned stupid, he went to the ground with him instead of staying on his feet and sprawling and finishing Shields. Just a completely bone-headed loss.

    Shields looks so uncomfortable on the feet; he looks incredibly robotic; I think Fitch would actually beat him up on the feet. Great positional grappling by Shields though.

    • Joe says:

      I would not call him a “much better” striker. He’s more technical to be sure, but JDS doesn’t have the dynamic striking game that Anderson Silva has, and Cain has proven in his last two fights that his striking is pretty solid as well so it’s not like he’s just going to be picked apart. And JDS has nothing close to Cain’s explosiveness, so I don’t see how you can say he’s the better athlete. JDS does have that top notch black house takedown defense though, and certainly we can assume that his jiu-jitsu is world class based on association. But with Cain’s wrestling and high fight IQ, I don’t see any reason that JDS would be the favorite.

      • david m says:

        I have no idea where you get that JDS doesn’t have Cain’s explosiveness. Ask Werdum or Yvel or Roy Nelson or Mirko how hard Junior 2 hits. Certainly Cain has more explosive wrestling, but he doesn’t have the speed on his shots that Brock did; there is a reason he got dropped 3x by Cheick Kongo.

        Cain’s head trainer even said after the fight that Junior has better boxing than Cain does; he also unquestionably has a better chin.

        Cain has a relentlessness to him that most fighters don’t have, but coming forward too much against a skilled boxer who can really bang like Junior is dangerous.

        For the record I didn’t say J2S will be the favorite, I just said I would pick him to beat Cain. If Cain can’t take/keep someone down who is a better striker than he is, how does he win?

        • EJ says:

          That of course assumes alot like JDS being able to stop a top flight wrestling from taking him down and smashing his face in. Junior might have better boxing and equal athleticism but that won’t matter if he can’t stop from being put on his back and eating elbows that’s a huge question. To me Cain should be the clear favorite the only thing that stopped me from believing that he could be champion was his lack of size which he proved isn’t a problem. Unless he just decides to stand and bang with Junior this fight is his to win but either way it should be interesting to watch.

        • Joe says:

          JDS is definitely the better boxer/striker, but the difference is not as great as, say, the difference between Cain’s and Brock’s striking. So, I mean, Cain is not going to get totally blitzed on his feet. As far as athleticism, yeah JDS is an explosive striker but Cain is the far more explosive athlete overall, which is what I meant. Hard to know about JDS’ chin because it hasn’t been tested, but I don’t know how you can criticize Cain’s chin after withstanding those massive shots from Kongo.

          You’re right that JDS is the more disciplined fighter. While Cain’s relentlessness/recklessness is key to his effectiveness in many ways, JDS’s footwork, balance, and technical boxing are the keys to his. Should be a good fight.

      • david m says:

        Joe: I mostly agree with what you wrote, but I think J2S’ chin definitely got tested against Fat Country. Roy 1-punch KO’d Schaub (who just slaughtered Gonzaga) and Struve, so we know he can punch. Roy landed lots of shots on J2S (obviously not nearly as many as were landed on him), and never hurt J2S.

        I look at the way Kongo dropped Cain differently than you do; where you see it as a tribute to Cain’s chin that he was able to withstand the shots and keep coming (and eventually overwhelm the immobile cheating Frenchman), I see it as a weakness that he got clobbered and dropped 3x in a single fight by an immobile fighter who doesn’t have nearly the hand speed nor technical ability that J2S has.

        EJ: I agree that if Cain can consistently put J2S on his back he should win, but I don’t see that as anything like a guarantee. Roy and Gonzaga both have good takedowns (albeit definitely not at D-1 All-Amurican level), and I don’t recall either of them being able to take J2S down (although I admit it is possible that Roy took J2S down and kept him down for like a second or two before J2S was back up) or do anything besides get the shit beaten out of them.

        J2S is also 6’4 and knows how to use his reach, which makes him different than 99% of mma fighters.

        • Joe says:

          “the immobile cheating frenchman”

          love it. kongo should make that his new nickname.

          i don’t remember nelson landing many significant shots that fight, but i’m sure jds does have a very good chin. in general, and this is an angle that i doubt will get much coverage in the buildup to the fight, i think the thing that very well might come of this fight is confirmation that the black house fighting philosophy is the best there is. the way that team mixes precise, dynamic counterstriking + impenetrable takedown defense + world class defensive jiu-jitsu is, if nothing else, the antidote to the american wrestleboxer many have been clamoring for. i wonder if this fight doesn’t end up playing out similar to king mo vs. feijao.

  13. Black Dog says:

    After seeing the fight, certain things are very clear:

    1. Velasquez did not lose his cool; even when Brock rushed him and took him down early (smart move by Lesnar, I felt), he defended himself and made the escapes look incredibly easy.

    2. Fought his fight; Cain showed he could handle a much bigger man, took Brock’s best punches, and generally outclassed the guy.

    That’s it. Congrats to Cain; he proved this night he was the better fighter, and has a better skill set. No disrespect to Lesnar; a great wrestler, a tough dude, and he is getting better. I’m sure he’ll be back soon enough.

    Either way, this makes the heavyweight division very interesting for some time to come. I don’t gather a rematch is first thing up, based on what I’ve read, so Brock will have time to recover, smolder and get better for the next time.

    Cain I think has a pretty good reign ahead of him, and I am happy to see it.

  14. The Gaijin says:

    http://www.fightlinker.com/brock-shall-return

    ELL-OH-ELL. I gotta laugh – gotta love the internet age where a totally clueless, arrogant fanboy like Derek Suboticki aka “Subo” is actually a contributing “writer”, “commenter” or whatever to multiple mma websites.

    This guy comes off as the biggest smarmy a-hole who thinks he’s 100x smarter than he is with a completely arrogant attitude towards anyone that doesn’t share his ridiculously biased views. His gleeful sh*teating party over Fedor losing a fight was just the “pride comes before the fall” moment to last night.

    But lo and behold, the internet totally redeems itself when we get to see him make a post like this and totally expose what a f****n’ fanboy this guy really is. And the awesome excuses and rationalizations (early stoppage?!? LMAO), it’s so rich (he makes that post-fight shot of Dana look like a super lotto winner’s reaction)…I’m just going to bask in it for a long, long time. You can almost hear the tears flowing, he really really did believe the hype machine. PRICELESS.

    Whatever shred of credibility this moron had has completely vanished into the ether.

    • Isaiah says:

      The thing is, fans of any sport can tell you, a lot of guys who look like great prospects don’t make it. A few turn out to be even better than expected. That’s what happened here, but because of the need to find a UFC paladin to fight a proxy war with Fedor, people had to pretend that mediocrities like Mir, Herring, a shot Randy and Carwin were elite fighters.

      My hope is that now that the UFC has a guy who may legitimately be better than Fedor (maybe two, depending on how good JDS’s TD defense and/or ground game is), a lot of the type of nonsensical analysis we’ve been seeing over the past couple years will disappear.

    • Just because you blog, you are not a journalist or even someone with a worthwhile opinion. He is definitely not a person who is at that level. Its sad that anyone is even reposting it.

    • edub says:

      I also thought it was an early stoppage watching the fight considering the punishment he was able to endure against Carwin.

      BUT…. I don’t think it effected the outcome.

      Also being a fanboy doesnt directly relate to favoring the UFC… Mir, and Carwin are elite level HW’s.

      • The Gaijin says:

        Every report and indication I have heard was that Lesnar actually verbally quit, not sure if anyone’s seen affirmative confirmation of this?

        Mir and Carwin are definitely elite level HW’s, not sure what you’re getting at there. I was just laughing my ass off because dude has had the hugest fanboy boner for Lesnar that was so painfully obvious the agendas he’d been pushing as a “writer” or “blogger” or whatever.

        I am well aware fanboys of all walks and types exists, the issue I have with this dude is he arrogantly portrays himself as some high and mighty pundit that above being a “fanboy”, when it’s pretty clear from this piece that that’s exactly what he is.

        • edub says:

          “Mir and Carwin are definitely elite level HW’s, not sure what you’re getting at there.”

          2 posts above mine. I thought I was replying to him. I agree with pretty much everything you wrote.

          I just think there is a collective hoard online (kind of similar to the Fedor haters of about a year back) that couldn’t wait to see Lesnar fail, and this fight was there chance to come out and say “See! We told you he was never that good!”….

          “Every report and indication I have heard was that Lesnar actually verbally quit, not sure if anyone’s seen affirmative confirmation of this?”

          I also would love to see some confirmation if anyone’s got it. Again I don’t wanna take anything away from Cain, but the comeback he made against Carwin should’ve got him a little bit more leway IMHO.

        • The Gaijin says:

          “I also would love to see some confirmation if anyone’s got it. Again I don’t wanna take anything away from Cain, but the comeback he made against Carwin should’ve got him a little bit more leway IMHO.”

          Yeah, I can get on board with the it’s a title fight and the guy can take punishment reasoning…but at some point you have to be objective and say the guy’s been flopping around like a fish and getting dropped and tagged heavily, he’s between turtling, giving up his back and feebly attempting to cover his face (not intelligent defence) and the fighter in dominant position has knee on belly and is unloading (and actually landing) and the only thing left is unconsciousness.

          If Cain was hitting all forearms or whiffing punches or he was just throwing shots looking for the stoppage (we know what those look like) or Lesnar was actually making some type of defensive progress other than, I’ll eat heavy shots from another prone position then fine…but it was pretty clear cut and I think Lesnar was given plenty of chances. He certainly did not complain about the stoppage for even a second and it’s possible that he verbally submitted too.

        • The Gaijin says:

          I just think there is a collective hoard online (kind of similar to the Fedor haters of about a year back) that couldn’t wait to see Lesnar fail, and this fight was there chance to come out and say “See! We told you he was never that good!”….

          It’s just our culture now – people love someone to be built up just to tear them down twice as hard. Anyone who says he was never that good is in about as heavy a state of denial as someone who believed he was an unstoppable monster and the undisputed best HW in the world after 6 fights. He’s a top flight HW who people naively or wilfully ignore had some big holes in his game…but you fight guys who are at or near the best night in and night out, those holes WILL get exposed/exploited.

        • edub says:

          All true.

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