UFC 110 In The Books, UFC 111 On The Horizon
February 22nd, 2010 – By John Ritter
Sunday was supposed to be the night that big-chinned Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was to unload his boxing skills on Cain Velasquez, and stick it to him standing upright before the two could get to tangling on the mat in Sydney’s UFC 110. The fight was decided on their feet, alright.
But it was Velasquez, and is persistent leg strikes that were the difference. In less than a half-round, Velasquez used those kicks to weaken his opponent, then sent Nogueira to the mat with a vicious hook.
“When I threw that right hand, it just went through him,” Velasquez told MMAJunkie. “That’s all I felt. There was really no give. I just tried to follow it up with that left hook, and I saw him go down. I tried to capitalize on it. I tried not to get too anxious in there because I know he can take a lot of punishment and come back.”
He then pounced on his wounded opponent and delivered a series of shots that stopped the fight only 2:20 in, and ended “UFC 110: Nogueira vs. Velasquez” in a hurry, and set up the possibility for Velasquez to get a premier heavyweight fight in UFC 116.
Nogueira was the favorite in most MMA Sportsbooks, but it was Velasquez who executed his trade better.
“We were planning to push the pace wherever we could,” Velasquez said. “Stay on the outside, work the standup, and then take the takedown whenever it came.”
The knockout earned Velasquez “Knockout of the Night” honors, and a $50,000 bonus. He is now unbeaten in his six UFC fights, and eight MMA fights, which makes him an appealing candidate for UFC 116. But he will have to wait around for the results of the UFC 111 interim heavyweight title fight between Shane Carwin and Frank Mir on March 27th to find out his fate. Dana White said that Velasquez is in line to get a title shot against Brock Lesnar in the future if either Carwin or Mir are injured or sidelined.
“We’ll see what happens with Mir and Carwin – see who wins that – and if the guys come out unscathed, they’ll fight for the title,” White told MMAJunkie. “If not, then Cain Velasquez will get that slot.”
The only other knockout of the night was from the left hook of Ryan Bader, who was favored early on, but looked a little sluggish in the early rounds against Keith Jardin. Behind in the scoring from good takedown moves via Jardin, Bader finally connected on a dizzying right jab in the final round. It sent Jardin stumbling backwards, and vulnerable to an ambush. That’s when Bader attacked with his left hook that ended it.
Biggest upset of the night probably went to George Sotiropoulos, who was a 2-to-1 underdog, but pounded Joe Stevenson in front of his own countrymen. A native of Australia, Sotiropoulos had a significant reach advantate, and exploited it from the beginning, using several ground moves before executing an arm bar in the first round.
“Everybody who knows anything about MMA knows how good Joe ‘Daddy’ Stevenson is, and he got dominated tonight by Sotiropoulos,” White told MMAJunkie. “(Sotiropoulos) looked unbelievable. No matter how good you are, sometimes there’s other factors that play into your fight – like nerves, competing in his hometown for the first time – and he stepped up tonight.”
Stevenson was able to manuever his way around for a while, but couldn’t do enough to convince the judges that he wasn’t being pummeled. Sotiropoulos won on a unanimous, 30-27, decision to win his fifth-straight UFC fight, and break Stevenson’s two-fight streak.
Wanderlei Silva beat Michael Bisping by decision, 29-28, and Anthony Perosh was victimized by a gushing cut over his eye that gave Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic a TKO victory.
“I appreciate his courage and his guts,” Filipovic said about his opponent. “I think he showed tonight what courage means.”
Along with the Carwin/Mir heavyweight bout, UFC 111′s upcoming main event in New Jersey will be a welterweight fight between champion Georges St.-Pierre and Dan Hardy.
St.-Pierre isn’t looking for just a win. According to Tapology, he’s looking to increase his knockout ratio.
“I’m not satisfied about my ratio of knockouts,” St.-Pierre said. “I have knockouts, but I want to bring my ratio up. I’m more powerful than I was, and by being more powerful I’m faster as well. Power is strength and speed together.
“Right now, I’m about 190lbs. I’m bigger and I’m getting even bigger than I was, more powerful, and more explosive. I hit much harder,” he added. “We have been working on a lot of different stuff to make me hit harder and to give me more power on my strikes. It’s going to change a lot of things.”
For Hardy? A takedown won’t be such a bad thing.
“We know GSP’s game plan,” Hardy, who has been training with Mac Danzig, told The Telegraph Sport. “He had his wrestling coach with him the whole time while he was in Las Vegas at UFC 108 during the New Year. I’ve been working hard on clinch to takedown.”
Also on the main card is Thiago Alves vs. Jon Fitch, Martin Kampmann vs. Ben Saunders and Mark Bocek vs. Jim Miller.