Cain Velasquez, right, of San Jose, Calif. pounds a bloodied Antonio Silva of Brazil during UFC 146 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Saturday, May 26, 2012. ( Steve Marcus )
Dos Santos and Velasquez each notch TKOs at the MGM Grand Garden Arena
By Case Keefer, Las Vegas Sun and U.S. News Agency / Asian
Cain Velasquez’s celebration after brutalizing Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva for nearly four minutes in the most lopsided fashion imaginable at UFC 146 consisted of hugging a couple of his coaches and nothing else.
Velasquez was similarly emotionless at the post-fight press conference, sporting a blank stare for 30 minutes without flinching. Allow Velasquez to explain his detached state.
“The whole reason I got into this sport was to be the champ,” Velasquez said. “I just don’t feel right, right now, without having that.”
Someone tell the once-beaten man with “Brown Pride” tattooed across his chest to cheer up, because it sure sounds like he earned an opportunity to get back everything he wanted Saturday night.
UFC President Dana White came away so impressed with Velasquez’s performance that he said the former champion — a title Velasquez said sickened him — would probably get the next heavyweight title shot against Junior dos Santos.
Dos Santos finished Frank Mir via TKO at 3:04 of the second round in the UFC 146 main event minutes after Velasquez prevaile, clearing the way for their rematch.
“Cain went undefeated for a long time, lost to Junior,” White said. “(Dos Santos) defends the title and (Velasquez) wins, so we like that fight.”
White declined to go into further detail multiple times. But with both dos Santos and Velasquez looking healthy after UFC 146, it appears the fight could happen sometime in the early fall.
Don’t think Velasquez hasn’t already started to contemplate what he needs to do differently after dos Santos knocked him out in 64 seconds at UFC on Fox 1.
“Bring more of the fight to him than I did before,” Velasquez said. “I stayed too long on the outside, where he’s dangerous with his fast hands and good footwork.”
The build-up to dos Santos vs. Velasquez II will vary drastically from the first time around. Instead of being the favorite, Velasquez will have to deal with many doubting his chances against dos Santos.
“Cigano” improved to 9-0 in the UFC with the victory over Mir, his sixth by knockout. Dos Santos only needs to win two more fights to become the longest-tenured heavyweight champion in UFC history, which is his new goal.
“I think that’s why I’m working so hard on my career,” dos Santos said. “I’m taking everything very serious. I’m very positive and very confident. I’m here to stay.”
Velasquez won’t argue with that. Even though Velasquez beat Silva so badly that it took two maintenance workers about five minutes of hard scrubbing to get the blood off of the octagon floor before the main event, he had nothing profound to share about his win.
Velasquez saved the praise for the man quickly turning into his nemesis.
“Dos Santos looked good,” Velasquez said. “His hands are always good. His movement in and out, his takedown defense was good. This is always how he looks.”
Dos Santos masterfully peppered Mir with punches, while staying out of the way of the former champion’s advances. Dos Santos landed 58 strikes, according to FightMetric, and slid out of Mir’s only takedown attempt.
Mir could only connect 17 times before dos Santos knocked him down with a right hand and finished with another right.
“His footwork was awesome,” Mir said. “That’s the thing I think I had the hardest time with. Most guys my size don’t bounce in and out like that.”
Some fighters would object to the idea of a rematch against an opponent they beat convincingly within the same year. But dos Santos suggested Velasquez as his next challenger before he even heard White’s announcement.
For anyone who thinks dos Santos’ overhand right in the first meeting was a fluke — Velasquez is not among them — he has something to prove. Dos Santos believes Velasquez remains the second-best fighter in the division.
“He’s very different for this division,” dos Santos said. “He’s very fast and his stamina is really good for our division. For sure, he’s dangerous.”
Velasquez blamed his failure against dos Santos on not following his game plan, something he did precisely against Silva. Velasquez expected “Bigfoot” to throw a head kick early in the fight and wanted to use the opening to take him down.
That’s exactly what happened, as Velasquez dumped Silva on his back and began unleashing his arsenal of elbows and ground-and-pound punches. Silva managed to land a total of one strike in the 3:36 the fight lasted.
It was the type of domination that warrants an immediate championship bout.
“Cain deserves the next fight,” White said.