- UFC 117
Dos Santos batters 'Zombie' Nelson to earn title shot
Junior Dos Santos will watch the outcome of Brock Lesnar's heavyweight title defence against Cain Velasquez with interest after he cemented his position next in the queue with a dominant points victory over Roy Nelson.
After three quite incredible rounds that saw Nelson defy logic with the sheer amount of punishment he received, Dos Santos walked away with a 30-26 30-27 30-27 decision.
The win goes to the Brazilian, but the respect belongs to Nelson. Arriving in typically 'rounded' shape, Nelson came out swinging that trademark right hand bomb, and it connected on more than one occasion - cutting Dos Santos above the right eye. However, when it wasn't on target, Nelson walked onto sickening uppercuts, crunching right and left hooks, flying knees, and 15 minutes of pain. Three times in the first round Nelson was rocked, stumbling backwards and collapsing on one occasion, yet he kept staggering forward - zombie like - to earn a standing ovation at the final klaxon.
"This guy is tough man. Incredible," said a triumphant Dos Santos, now 12-1. "He trained a lot to be here, but I trained to be here too. This victory makes me happy. This victory gives me the title shot, I'll be fighting a guy harder than Roy, but I'll be ready."
Crucially, Dos Santos managed to stuff all takedown attempts from Nelson, including one in particular that boded well for a future fight with Lesnar or Velasquez. Manager Ed Soares says the Brazilian is impossible to take down, and on this showing neither Lesnar nor Velasquez will live with Dos Santos on their feet.
In arguably the most impressive performance of the night, Matt Hughes confirmed he is not even close to being done with the welterweight division, finishing Ricardo Almeida via submission. Pouncing on the grounded Brazilian at 3.15 seconds into round one, Hughes produced a stunning modified anaconda choke in what should have earned him Submission of the Night honours (they actually went to Anderson Silva).
Despite his legendary status in the UFC, Hughes entered as a 36-year-old underdog against the bigger and younger Almeida. The opening exchanges went to form too, with Almeida stuffing several takedown and clinch attempts, sending Hughes packing with a right cross to boot. However, out of nowhere Hughes floored his rival with a left hook midway through the round, and he wasted no time locking on the choke from a ridiculously difficult north/south position. Almeida stayed true to his jiu-jitsu roots, refusing to submit, but he was quickly out as Hughes celebrated his first triumph since entering the UFC Hall of Fame.
"Darn Dana put me in the Hall of Fame, put pressure on my shoulders, so it's nice to get that win!" said Hughes, now 46-7. "I learnt that move back at wrestling school and I've always been good at it. It's good to beat a good Brazilian with an old fashioned American wrestling move."
Clay Guida was triumphant in the night's other main card fight, submitting Rafael Dos Anjos at 1.51 seconds of the third round. Guida appeared to break the jaw of Dos Anjos in the opening stanza, and the Brazilian was forced to tap in the third when Guida pressed his shoulder into the jaw from top position.