HOUSTON – Cain Velasquez conclusively put to rest the UFC's top heavyweight rivalry on Saturday with a one-sided victory over Junior dos Santos in the main event of UFC 166 at the Toyota Center.
Any doubts about Velasquez's superiority over dos Santos ended when Velasquez once again battered the Brazilian in a title bout.
Velasquez convincingly won the rubber match between the top two heavyweights by pushing dos Santos against the cage and then butchering him with short punches on the inside, stopping him at 3:09 of the fifth.
[Photos: Best of UFC 166]
Dos Santos took the title from Velasquez at UFC on Fox 1 in 2011, but Velasquez won the last two meetings in brutally one-sided fashion. Dos Santos landed two hard punches to open the bout, then Velasquez shut him down.
Velasquez didn't give dos Santos any room. He pushed him against the cage and as the fight wore on, began picking him apart with straight right hands.
Dos Santos' face was covered with blood and welts from the severe beating. The end came when Velasquez threw a punch that didn't seem to land hard, but dos Santos sagged to his knees, unable to take any more punishment. Referee Herb Dean soon stopped it.
In their second fight at UFC 155, Velasquez repeatedly took dos Santos down and blistered him on the ground. This time around, Velasquez kept it standing but the outcome was the same.
"He beat me up," dos Santos said of Velasquez. "What can I say?"
Daniel Cormier grinds out victory over Roy "Big Country" Nelson
Daniel Cormier, in his final fight at heavyweight before moving to light heavyweight, ground out a workmanlike unanimous decision over Roy Nelson. All three judges scored it 30-27 for Cormier.
Cormier never hurt Nelson but he was in control of the fight throughout. He landed a series of straight right hands in the first two rounds, but couldn't put together a combination.
In the third, Cormier began kicking at Nelson and landed several good ones. It took Nelson out of his plan, and Nelson had little offense. It was Nelson's second loss in a row.
"I have some work to do, but I'm going to be the [light heavyweight] champion some day, believe me," Cormier said.
Gilbert Melendez edges Diego Sanchez in amazing war
Diego Sanchez has been in some of the great fights in mixed martial arts history, but his third round on Saturday against Gilbert Melendez was one of his best.
Battered and beaten over two rounds by Melendez, whose punches were harder and more accurate, Sanchez cranked the intensity several notches in the final round and put on an incredible show.
He willed himself into the fight, ignoring a gargantuan cut about his left eye, and nearly finished the former Strikeforce champion.
Melendez won a unanimous decision, 29-28 twice and 30-27, but the crowd was on its collective feet roaring as loudly as it ever has at a UFC fight, paying homage to Sanchez.
Sanchez hurt Melendez with an uppercut that knocked him down, but he went for a guillotine choke instead of trying for a ground-and-pound finish. With all of the sweat and blood, Sanchez couldn't hold it and Melendez slipped out.
They traded over the final 30 seconds in a fierce exchange of punches as the crowd cheered deliriously. It was one of the most electric atmospheres inside a UFC arena as Sanchez rallied to try to pull off the last-second finish.
He didn't get it, but it didn't seem to matter to the crowd. The bout was so good that UFC president Dana White raced over to the media section to talk about it.
Melendez said, "I'm the uncrowned champ and I'm coming for that belt," but he played second fiddle on this night even in victory. Sanchez's heart and determination won over the crowd, which had difficulty believing what it was seeing.
Sanchez often shouts "Yes! Yes! Yes!" when he comes to the cage as a motivational ploy, but it was like the crowd wanted to do that on Saturday after watching the final-round drama.
Melendez hopes to get a title shot next.
"It was a great feeling getting my first UFC win," he said. "It was a battle and exactly what I expected from him as an opponent. He didn't go down at all. I was pressing and moving forward, and he was taking some big shots. My only three losses have been to guys who try to win by the scorecard, and it's unfortunate that for a lot of fans, this is the first time they are seeing my style.
"I always try to give the fans a fun fight. I want the belt so the next fight I would like is the winner of the [Anthony] Pettis/[Josh] Thomson fight."
Sanchez saw the fight a bit closer on the scorecards.
"I think in all honesty the fight was a draw," Sanchez said. "He is number one in the division. I landed a big shot in the third round, but he got the first two rounds. In my mind and my heart we are the toughest two lightweights out there, and I take my hat off to Gil."
Gabriel Gonzaga blasts out Shawn Jordan in the first
Gabriel Gonzaga connected with a short counter right as Shawn Jordan was charging him, and that made it a quick night for all concerned.
Jordan went down in a heap, and Gonzaga finished him with a series of hard ground-and-pound shots. The end came at 1:33 of the first.
It was the second first-round knockout in a row for Gonzaga, tying him with Frank Mir for most finishes in the heavyweight division with 11.
John Dodson knocks Darrell Montague cold
John Dodson is one of the greatest athletes in the UFC with arguably the fastest set of hands. The one-time flyweight title contender showed his blazing hand speed in a first-round finish of Darrell Montague.
Dodson was regularly beating Montague to the punch. He knocked him down early in the fight with a left, then finished it with a straight left to the jaw. Montague went down face first and it was quickly over.
"I wanted to make sure my striking was perfect and accurate every time," said Dodson, fighting for the first time since losing a flyweight title bout to champion Demetrious Johnson in January.