Inside Fight Sports: NorCal shines bright at UFC 166
American Kickboxing Academy's Cain Velasquez successfully defended his UFC heavyweight crown on Saturday. (AP)
Northern California had a strong showing at UFC 166 in Houston on Saturday, as all three of the region's fighters on the card were victorious.
American Kickboxing Academy's Cain Velasquez successfully defended his UFC heavyweight crown for the second straight time by defeating the man he took it from. Velasquez dominated Junior dos Santos and finished the Brazilian heavyweight in the fifth round via TKO. It was the third time the two behemoths met in the octagon and the rubber match of a historic trilogy. The third bout strongly resembled the second time the two met, as Cain controlled every round and left JDS a bruised and defeated man.
Cain's AKA teammate, Daniel Cormier, squared up against Roy Nelson in a long-awaited fight fueled by trash talk. Cormier easily handled "Big Country," winning via unanimous decision. It was Cormier's second consecutive win since joining the UFC and could possibly be his last as a heavyweight. Cormier has been open about his plans to move down to light-heavyweight.
As two of AKA's big names dominated their opponents, it was a lightweight from San Francisco that was produced what many are calling Fight of the Year.
San Francisco's Gilbert Melendez returned to the octagon and took on longtime UFC veteran Diego Sanchez. Melendez took control early with strong Muay Thai and exceptional wrestling in the first round. But the bout quickly turned into an all-out brawl as the two were more than happy to stand tall and exchange blows for the full fight. What started as a one-sided affair became a brutal, 15-minute battle. Both fighters were dropped, but neither was finished. Melendez won via split decision to earn his first victory in the octagon, but both garnered the respect of the masses.