Velasquez turns in showing of his life
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- This was to be the biggest celebration in UFC history.
Never had a fighter of Mexican descent held a heavyweight title -- not in mixed martial arts or boxing.
Cain Velasquez was determined to be the first. He entered the Octagon on Saturday night at Honda Center wearing his proud heritage on his chest.
The large number of Mexican-American fans cheered loudly the moment their man came into sight. This was to be their night. The night history was to be made -- one of their own was going to become the baddest man on this planet.
But a giant hurdle needed to be overcome if Velasquez"s dream was to be realized. UFC champion Brock Lesnar had a bit of history of his own to achieve.
Never in UFC history has a heavyweight champ successfully defended his title three times. Lesnar was determined to become the first.
Someone's dream of making history Saturday night was not to be. Velasquez was determined his dream would come true.
For the first time in mixed martial arts history a fighter of Mexican heritage is the heavyweight champion of the world.
Velasquez wasted little time getting the job done. He pummeled Lesnar, leaving the defending champion bloodied and disoriented.
Javier Mendez, Velasquez's head trainer at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif., told ESPN.com recently that speed would be key to winning this fight. He could not have been more accurate.
Lesnar came out aggressively, delivering punches and kicks. Some landed, but none discouraged Velasquez. Even when Lesnar barreled in to take him down, Velasquez showed his strength and speed to stay on his feet.
But the champion was determined to get Velasquez off his feet. He would finally succeed, but the success was short-lived.
Again Velasquez"s speed and technical skills allowed him to escape being in a vulnerable position.
Once back on his feet, Velasquez began to dispense his brand of punishment. And it was something Lesnar had never seen before.
"I expected him to come out and try to take me down," Velasquez said after improving to 9-0-0. "We prepared for every scenario."
Velasquez delivered a hard right hand that opened a cut over Lesnar"s left eye. He would then get Lesnar to the ground, where Velasquez would increase his assault.
The Salinas, Calif., native pounded Lesnar. When the champion got to his feet, Velasquez caught him with a solid right that sent Lesnar rolling around on the canvas.
Lesnar got up, but Velasquez punished him more and sent him back to the canvas with right and left hands. Never had Lesnar looked so defenseless.
Not even against Shane Carwin, who beat Lesnar quite convincingly during the first round of their bout in July. But Lesnar would survive that beating -- coming back in the second round to submit Carwin.
Velasquez made certain Lesnar would have no opportunity to bounce back. He never let up, and unlike Carwin. cardio wasn"t going to be an issue with this challenger.
Lesnar had no choice but to turn his back and take punches to his face. Referee Herb Dean couldn't bear to watch it anymore, calling a halt to the massacre at the 4:12 mark.
In defeat, Lesnar showed class and praised Velasquez for a job well done.
Lesnar (5-2-0) did not enter this fight expecting Velasquez to be an easy task. He could not have imagined it would be this difficult.
"I expected nothing less," Lesnar said. "He"s a great fighter. What can I say? He was better than me tonight."
Franklin McNeil is a contributing mixed martial arts/boxing writer for ESPN.com. He also appears regularly on "MMA Live," which airs on ESPN2. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Franklin_McNeil.
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