Posted 10/22/2013 by Marlene Taborda in Untethered MMA

UFC 166 Review

By Mike Fagan, October 22nd, 2013 

Cain Velasquez may have vanquished hopes of the UFC’s first tetralogy (or pentalogy) at UFC 166. Velasquez beat down Junior dos Santos for the second time in a row, all but erasing their first, 64-second affair from memory. Dos Santos may now find himself in the same position Jon Fitch was in for two years following his loss to Georges St-Pierre – the clear number two guy in the division with no one interested in a rematch. Of course, Fitch fought in a crowded welterweight division that somehow seemed to produce a new, worthy-ish contender every half-calendar year. Dos Santos, standing ankle deep in a shallow heavyweight division, may find himself in a fourth title fight with Velasquez by default.

-Loads of similarities between fights two and three. Velasquez outlanded dos Santos in Significant Strikes 123-46 on Saturday, 111-57 last year. He scored a knockdown in each fight. Dos Santos had relative success defending takedowns. The biggest difference, by the numbers, was takedown attempts. FightMetric scored 33 attempts in the Empire Strikes Back fight, and “only” 13 in the Return of the Jedi finale.

-As I said leading up to the fight, it’s not just that dos Santos had to defend takedowns successfully. Cain’s pressure and wrestling are a huge threat regardless of efficacy. Dos Santos never had room to breathe, and that ultimately decided the fight.

-If Junior dos Santos can’t keep up with Cain’s pace, just who can? Daniel Cormier may be the only heavyweight capable of managing Velasquez, but he’s headed on the Hobbit trail to Jon Jones at 205 pounds. I’ve seen Josh Barnett’s name thrown around as a guy that could give Velasquez issues, but that seems far-fetched unless Will Smith erased your memory of his fight with Cormier. Fabricio Werdum appears to be on tap for Velasquez, and while his jiu-jitsu game is a threat to anyone, imagining a scenario that allows him to capitalize on it is difficult. Past Barnett (who would need to get past Travis Browne before anything anyway) and Werdum, you have a bunch of also-rans and unproven commodities: Browne, Frank Mir, “Bigfoot” Silva, Alistair Overeem, Stipe Miocic, etc. Browne will have the best resume should HE get by Barnett, but, according to Bill Simmons, he just doesn’t seem like Guy On The Poster In The Main Event material.

-The situation at heavyweight leaves Cain an opportunity to rack up a handful of wins and establish himself as the top heavyweight in UFC history. A win over Werdum gives him sole possession of the record for consecutive heavyweight title defenses. It would also give him five wins in title fights, tying him with a bunch of guys, with only names like Ortiz, Jones, Couture, Hughes, St-Pierre, and Silva ahead of him. It’s still early to say, definitively, that’s he’s taken over the (all-time) GOAT spot at heavyweight from Fedor Emelianenko, but it is fair to say that he’s on the path.

-Assuming a fourth dos Santos fight is on ice for any foreseeable future, Velasquez’s next legitimate challenge may come in the form of Jon Jones. Jones has long talked about his eventual move to heavyweight (it’s easy to forget he’s only 26 and still growing into his frame). You’ll read elsewhere that light heavyweight is suddenly flush with contenders, but Jones will bulldoze Glover Teixeira, Cormier probably needs a win first (though he does offer the biggest threat), and the Gustafsson fight becomes a lot less interesting if 1) he loses or 2) Cain is left playing with his food in the interim.

-Junior dos Santos and I have a lot in common: We don’t remember much after the second round. Of course, he took shots to the face and I took shots in my mouth. So, it’s hard for me to say that the fight should have been stopped at any point before the 3:09 mark in the fifth round, but considering the memory loss and his, you know, face after the fight, there’s probably some merit to the argument that the referee or dos Santos’s corner should have shown some mercy.

-As I said, Cormier will probably need or want a fight at 205 before fighting Jones. I’d love to see him and Gustafsson, but the UFC may not want to snuff a potential challenger. In which case, I’d suggest Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, who, thanks to wins over Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans, is somehow ranked 5th in the UFC’s official rankings.

-Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez was the “greatest fight ever seen” by Joe Rogan, who seems to have a dozen of these calls over the last six months. I’m not sure it’s the best fight of either of their careers, nor is it the best fight of the last month (see: Jones vs. Gustafsson). Still! An awesome, awesome fight and a worthy Fight of the Year contender.

-The win will probably leapfrog Melendez over TJ Grant in the title picture. If he doesn’t get the winner of Anthony Pettis and Josh Thomson, a rematch with Ben Henderson would be in order.

-Gabriel Gonzaga’s return to the UFC doesn’t signify any sort of career rebirth. He’s beaten one OK heavyweight and two not-OK heavyweights plus a KO loss to Travis Browne. He’s reestablishing his spot as a low-second-tier heavyweight, which got lost in the shuffle after he KOed Mirko Cro Cop. He got thrown in with a bunch of top guys, who beat the crap out of him. His worst loss, however, is Brandon Schaub, and in a division full of variance and flukes, ain’t no damn shame to that.

-Hector Lombard moved himself down a couple notches on the bust rankings, though he’ll have to prove himself further before he’s removed from the list entirely. Nate Marquardt is a solid win, but this is the same guy who lost a five-round fight to Tarec Saffiedine and ate the canvas three minutes into his fight with Jake Ellenberger. Rich Hansen at MMA Torch conjured a great matchup for Lombard’s sophomore effort at welterweight: Nick Diaz.


Mike Fagan is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET at, also available as a podcast via iTunes.




Marlene Taborda