UFC 121: Cain Veslasquez Claims the Gold and Jake Shields Makes His Debut
This past Saturday night, the UFC invaded the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., and Fight Fans were treated to an exciting night of action-packed fights. The majority of those fights lacked the show-stopping climax that fight fans have come to desire.
Fortunately, the UFC Heavyweight Championship battle between Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez stole the show and capped off the night that saw several fights with future weight-class implications and helped to bring in a reported 14,856 attendees for a $2.15 million gate, UFC president Dana White announced in the evening's post-fight press conference.
Brock Lesnar vs. Cain Velasquez
One thing that can be taken away from UFC 121 is that newly crowned Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez is the REAL DEAL. It took Velasquez only 4:11 of the 1st round (in a five round championship fight) to defeat Brock Lesnar by TKO (Strikes), a fighter many thought to be unbeatable.
It was evident early in the fight that Velasquez was looking to take the fight to Lesnar and push the pace. Watching these two fighters clash was what every fight fan expected.
The raw power and athleticism the fighters showed was amazing. Velasquez proved that power, hand speed and tenacity could trump the power and freakish size of Lesnar.
The most apparent thing was how uncomfortable Brock looked as he was getting hit. Too bad for Brock he was constantly under pressure and taking shots from every angle.
Many fight fans wondered if both fighters’ collegiate wrestling credentials would be on display for five rounds. All questions and doubts were answered at the opening bell.
The only question that’s left, is how will Cain Velasquez will do in the first defense of his UFC Heavyweight title? Next up for the new champion is dangerous Brazilian striker Junior Dos Santos, who currently is riding a six-fight win streak and boasts two Knockout of the Night honors.
For Lesnar, its back to the drawing board and that means striking, striking and more striking. The scariest thing is that Brock is only seven fights in to his MMA career and seems to be growing by leaps and bounds.
Who he will fight next is still undecided, but know that he will be looking to reclaim the title that he lost to Velasquez.
Jake Shields vs. Martin Kampmann
The welterweight match-up between Jake Shields and Martin Kampmann was an interesting clash of styles. Shields controlled the ground portion of the fight, but could not seem to put Kampmann away.
Kampmann was clearly winning the stand up battle but also looked impressive on the ground, applying submissions to Shields and stuffing several of Shields' takedowns.
Much was made of the 20 pounds that Shields lost to make weight before the fight. No one likes to make excuses for a fighter, but 20 pounds is a huge amount. And it showed.
The weight cut and UFC jitters (It was no secret that if Jake Shields won, he would get the next crack at UFC Welterweight Champ Georges St-Pierre) had a lot to with Shields' lackluster performance.
That and the pressure of continuing his 15-fight win streak. UFC fans need to understand what type of fighter they have gotten. Jake Shields is the first BJJ Black Belt under Cesear Gracie and a master of the ground game.
Unfortunately, he lacks the power in his hands to impress the UFC faithful and that could end up hurting him in the long run. The UFC is not so much about winning, but winning impressively and captivating the fans.
Although he suffered a defeat, Martin Kampmann gained confidence in knowing that he could hang with one of, if not the best welterweights in the world.
He has some very notable wins on his resume, but he needs to add some top ten contenders and prove to the UFC brass that he can win the big fights.
Next up for Kampmann? How about a matchup with UFC 121 card mate Diego Sanchez?
Diego Sanchez vs. Paulo Thiago
The real question was not if Sanchez could win this fight against the explosive Brazilian, but how Sanchez would recover from a devastating loss to John Hathaway in his return to welterweight.
Sanchez looked solid as a lightweight, but his home is in the welterweight division. Thiago looked impressive against Sanchez in the opening round but lacked the ability to put the New Mexico native away.
Sanchez recently made the move back to his roots by rejoining Greg Jackson before the fight.
What is next for Diego Sanchez? An interesting matchup between Martin Kampmann would be a great fight. The UFC is stacked at welterweight and there is no shortage of fights for Sanchez as he attempts to make another run at a title.
Tito Ortiz vs. Matt Hamill
This was clearly an opportunity for the Student to show the Teacher all that he has learned. And that is exactly what Matt Hamill did to his former Ultimate Fighter coach.
Hamill looked impressive in his win over Ortiz and now looks to make the jump in competition. The light heavyweight division is loaded, but a fighter of Hamill's caliber could quickly rise up the ladder.
As for Ortiz, the loss is just one of many for the former champion and one that could send him packing. The love/hate relationship between Tito, the UFC fans and management seems to be at a crossroads.
Tito has lost three in a row and four of his last five. The torch has been passed from Ortiz to Hamill; let's see if Tito now rides into the sunset.
Brendan Schaub vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
This fight had all the makings of "Fight of the Night". But like the rest of the card this fight went to the judges with Schaub getting the Decision victory.
With Schaub you know exactly what you are getting. And that's a big, athletic heavyweight who wants to stand and bang. And that is just what he did.
It is still puzzling why Gonzaga did not attempt to take the fight to the ground and keep it there.
After the win, Schaub claimed to want a fight with Frank Mir next. This would a big step up in competition for Schaub and could lead to other top-tier opponents should he get past the former UFC Champ Mir.
UFC 121 not only saw several fighters step out of the shadows and into the spotlight, it also saw history being made as Cain Velasquez became the first Hispanic Heavyweight Champion in combat sports.
Welterweights Jake Shields and Diego Sanchez could be on a collision course in the not so distant future and Matt Hamill and Brendan Schaub are on the fast track to finding top flight competition.
There still seems to be something missing on these cards. There is still a sense around the fight community that they are not getting what they paid for.
The question is would you rather have a UFC PPV every month or would the MMA organization be better served to hold stacked cards with more star-studded fights every other month? How much is too much?