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Velasquez ages JDS in 25 gruelling minutes to take title

ESPN staff
December 30, 2012 « Dodson chasing pigs & squirrels to prepare for Johnson | Chartbeat test »
Cain Velasquez beats Junior Dos Santos

Cain Velasquez made sure it is his name on the lips of fight fans worldwide heading into 2013 after he stormed Junior Dos Santos to regain the UFC heavyweight championship on Saturday.

A little over a year ago Velasquez was embarrassed in front of a global audience as Dos Santos knocked him out in 64 seconds in their first meeting. However, it has forever been claimed that a serious knee injury caused that defeat, and at UFC 155 Velasquez had his revenge, mauling Dos Santos in all areas for an emphatic unanimous 50-45 50-43 50-44 decision victory.

Dos Santos had never been in trouble in a UFC fight, always serene and - quite frankly - a cut above his rivals. But he succumbed to the incredible pressure of Velasquez, who rocked his man badly with a huge right hand in round one, after which he never let his man breathe.

For a brief couple of minutes the start of the fight looked good for the champion, easily stuffing several takedowns, but he forgot to defend his chin, which was shattered by a booming right hand from Velasquez. That allowed the challenger to spend the rest of the stanza pounding away, and when Dos Santos returned to his stool he barely had enough balance to stay upright.

It appeared the contest wouldn't last much longer as Dos Santos tired rapidly, now suffering takedown after takedown, eating big shots in between. To the credit of the champion he continued to get back to his feet, continued to push Velasquez off, but he could barely raise his arms to attack or defend as the challenger landed more big shots at striking distance.

Heavily swollen and carrying the appearance of a man who had aged 20 years in the space of 15 minutes, Dos Santos did at least threaten in the championship rounds, tagging Velasquez with the occasional heavy shot, but Velasquez stayed on him until the end for a stunning dethroning of the champion.

The penultimate bout of 2012 produced arguably the fight of the entire year as Jim Miller and Joe Lauzon stood toe-to-toe for three incredible rounds, drenched in Lauzon's blood as Miller claimed a unanimous 29-28 decision. Nobody was left on their seat at the end of 15 gruelling minutes during which Lauzon survived a battering before nearly finishing the contest with late submission attempts.

Round one was all Miller as he made a complete mess of Lauzon's face with elbows, dirty boxing and uppercuts - prompting the doctor to check a deep cut above Lauzon's right eye. That assault appeared to take it out of Miller, who landed a takedown in round two but finished the stanza defending a kneebar attempt.

Joe Lauzon came up short against Jim Miller © Getty Images
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In the third, with both men covered in claret, Miller landed clever inside-leg trips while Lauzon hurt his man with a flying knee to the body. At one stage both men hit the deck simultaneously, and with time running out Lauzon leapt for a flying heel hook transitioning to a guillotine before the clock finally ended a lightweight epic in Miller's favour.

A significant fight in the middleweight division saw the title hopes of Tim Boetsch derailed by a string of ailments in a third-round TKO loss to Costa Philippou. Riding a 4-0 record since dropping to middleweight, Boetsch appeared to break a hand and then lose vision in one eye due to an eye poke as Philippou took full advantage.

The American arguably took round one, dropping Philippou on the klaxon with a front kick, but he returned to his corner with a badly damaged right hand and was never the same fighter. An accidental headbutt opened up a cut on Boetsch's forehead that later poured into his damaged eye as Philippou began to pound away, and the third-round stoppage was inevitable.

Alan Belcher's claims to be the best 185-pounder on the planet proved without foundation as he was well beaten in a unanimous 30-27 30-27 29-28 decision by Yushin Okami. Belcher had been calling out the likes of Michael Bisping, but he was controlled on the ground by Okami who only once ran into danger when momentarily wobbled by a right hand in the third.

There was huge disappointment for England's Brad Pickett in the bantamweight division, after he struggled to find his timing in a split 30-27 28-29 30-27 decision loss to Eddie Wineland that blows the Brit's chances of an interim title shot. Pickett had arrived in Las Vegas looking to book a collision with the winner of Renan Barao and Michael McDonald, but he failed to get inside Wineland's reach on a frustrating night.

Wineland hurt Pickett regularly and often in the first round, dropping the Brit to his knee twice although Pickett showed incredible recovery powers to bounce straight up. The right hand continued to land for the American, and his movement off the back foot ensured Pickett could not build any pressure throughout the contest.

Chris Leben's first fight in over a year proved instantly forgettable as he lost a poor quality contest to Derek Brunson via a unanimous 29-28 decision that saw both men's cardio woefully exposed.

Elsewhere, there was some peculiar judging as Jamie Varner deservedly took a 30-27 27-30 30-27 split decision against Melvin Guillard in the lightweight decision. And Erik Perez became the first UFC bantamweight to finish his opening three fights in the first round, pounding out Byron Bloodworth after a well-timed knee to the body.

UFC 155 results:
Cain Velasquez bt Junior Dos Santos via unanimous decision (50-45 50-43 50-44)
Jim Miller bt Joe Lauzon via unanimous decision (29-28 29-28 29-28)
Costa Philippou bt Tim Boetsch via TKO at 2.11 of Round 3
Yushin Okami bt Alan Belcher via unanimous decision (30-27 30-27 29-28)
Derek Brunson bt Chris Leben via unanimous decision 29-28 29-28 29-28
Eddie Wineland bt Brad Pickett via split decision (30-27 28-29 30-27)
Erik Perez bt Byron Bloodworth via TKO at 3.55 of Round 1
Jamie Varner bt Melvin Guillard via split decision (30-27 30-27 30-27)
Myles Jury bt Michael Johnson via unanimous decision (30-27 30-27 30-27)
Todd Duffee bt Phil De Fries via TKO at 2.04 of Round 1
Max Holloway bt Leonard Garcia via split decision (29-28 28-29 29-28)
John Moraga bt Chris Cariaso via guillotine at 1.11 of Round 3

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