UFC 121: Cain Velasquez Stuns Brock Lesnar to Claim Historic Heavyweight Title Win
BROCK LESNAR’S reign as UFC’s heavyweight champion ended in explosive fashion this morning as Cain Velasquez became the first Mexican to hold the sport’s top prize.
The former WWE star turned MMA villain was out punched and outfought in an stunning flurry from the 28-year-old Latino star in the first round of their title clash at UFC 121.
Lesnar had started strongly, flying out of his corner at the start of the fight, but the Californian-born Velasquez, in front of a home-state crowd, was unintimidated by Lesnar’s size or speed and quickly brushed off any sign of nerves.
He fought back from two takedowns by the bleeding Lesnar to open up with a flurry of blows and a damaging knee that left the Dakota native staggering across the cage floor, before eventually breaking his guard and raining down punches to force a TKO victory with just over four minutes of the allotted 25 gone.
Afterwards the hometown favorite admitted it was a ‘great feeling’ to have claimed victory in Anaheim.
“We knew his game plan going in, and it kind of did surprise me how hard he came forward,” he said.
“I froze. I wasn’t as relaxed as I should have been, but after that takedown he got on me, that’s when I was able to say, ‘Relax, relax.'”
Lesnar, meanwhile, is tipped for a rubber match clash with old for Frank Mir before he gets another shot at the title he finally lost his huge grip on.
Elsewhere on the card, new UFC signing and former Strikeforce champ Jake Shields struggled to a points victory over Danish veteran Martin Kampmann.
The victory puts Shields in line for the next welterweight title shot, against the winner of Georges St-Pierre’s title defence against Josh Koscheck.
UFC champion Velasquez is next-generation MMA star
ANAHEIM, Calif. — The UFC’s new heavyweight champion is a soft-spoken former Arizona State wrestler who dotes on his daughter even during training. Until Saturday night, Cain Velasquez’s life was strictly about family and fighting.
He knows it’s going to get a bit more complicated after he demolished the most famous man in mixed martial arts.
Velasquez won more than a gaudy belt with his stunning first-round stoppage of Brock Lesnar at UFC 121. The San Jose-based fighter has been among the sport’s top prospects for several years, and he realized his potential in a frighteningly lopsided victory that ended with the hulking Lesnar defenseless against his power.
Only when referee Herb Dean halted the fight with 48 seconds left did Velasquez crack his expressionless persona of the past several weeks walking to the middle of the ring, raising his arms in triumph and then putting his hands over his face in disbelief, his Mexican-flag mouthpiece revealed by his first public smile in a while.
“It was a sweet feeling,” Velasquez said. “All the work I put in was for that moment. I pictured it playing out that way. It was the best ending I could think of, as far as the whole story, but I’ve got to keep getting better and look out for whoever is coming.”
With a rigid work ethic instilled in him by immigrant parents, Velasquez is unlikely to get comfortable after becoming the first major Mexican-American heavyweight champion in MMA or boxing. He’s already making plans for his first defense early next year against Brazil’s Junior Dos Santos, the next rising prospect in a division packed with intriguing fighters.
After the fight, he calmly analyzed his game plan against Lesnar with the same detachment that an offensive lineman might use to talk about pass-blocking technique.
“When he starts getting hit is when his hands start to fall apart,” UFC president Dana White said. “It’s not a matter of working on his hands enough. It’s a different ballgame when you’re getting punched in the face.”
Although White’s top star no longer has a belt, Lesnar’s loss actually might help the UFC, which now has two genuine superstar attractions at heavyweight instead of just one. Anyone who watches Velasquez’s thrashing of Lesnar will be intrigued to see how he tackles Dos Santos, the impressive Brazilian striker, while Lesnar is unlikely to lose much of his allure.
“I think people will always be interested in Brock, and now they’ll be interested in Cain, too,” White said.