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Classy Velasquez stops Silva in first round

ESPN staff
May 26, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Cain Velasquez stopped Antonio Silva with a right hand to the jaw © AP
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After failing to hold on to the UFC heavyweight belt in 2011, Cain Velasquez made good in his second attempt, retaining the title in dominating fashion over Antonio Silva with a technical stoppage due to strikes in the first round at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

"The important thing was to stay moving," Velasquez said. "Look for takedowns. Look for punches. But never stay in front of him."

Silva (18-5) did well to defend Velasquez's first takedown attempts, but whatever game plan the 33-year-old Brazilian brought into the Octagon with him vanished when he was crushed by a right hand to the jaw.

Velasquez, 30, followed with a stream of strikes while Silva was on all-fours. Referee Mario Yamasaki gave a close look and soon after pulled the plug on the fight. Silva protested, but only for a moment. Afterward, Silva complained about the stoppage.

"The fight was stopped too early," Silva said. "The way that I think is that the saying that applies to athletes when they do something wrong or illegal, is the same for the referees. They too should be penalised."

"It's clear watching it that I took several blows to the back of my head. The referee explained to me that the first is a warning that should be issued. The next is points. As you can see I took several shots to the back of my head."

Speed and stamina are hallmarks of Velasquez (12-1) as a fighter. The Mexican-American, groomed by Javier Mendez at the American Kickboxing Academy, needed only to rely on one of those Saturday night.

Velasquez said after the win that he doesn't think about what he does as defending belts. Each fight is its own experience. That's a good way of looking at things since no heavyweight in the UFC ever has held onto the title more than two straight fights.

Up next is Velasquez's most challenging rival, Junior dos Santos, the man who yanked the belt away from him two years ago. Dos Santos scored a third-round stoppage over Mark Hunt, a performance Velasquez notice.

"He looked good tonight," the champion said of dos Santos. "He's tough. He's always looked tough."

Many people will claim the same of Velasquez, who went about his business the way a heavy favourite should.

For his effort, Velasquez became the first man since Randy Couture walked away from the Octagon in 1997 to hold the title of lineal champion. That distinction resided outside the UFC until Alistair Overeem brought it with him from Strikeforce. Having knocked out Overeem in February, it was "Bigfoot" who laid claim to that mythical title.

Now Velasquez has unified the division, and the UFC champion is truly the baddest man on the planet.

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