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After two memorable battles, the two best heavyweights in combat sports meet for the third time to settle the score at UFC 166. Fresh from a first-round knockout of Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, champion Cain Velasquez defends his title against the man he has waged war against twice. His opponent, Brazilian knockout artist Junior Dos Santos, earned his shot at redemption with a highlight-reel-worthy finish of Mark Hunt. On October 19th, the best in the business complete their trilogy on mixed martial arts’ biggest stage. Plus, Roy “Big Country” Nelson takes on unbeaten Daniel Cormier.
In the first fight of the main card John Dodson welcomes UFC newcomer Darrel Montague. Dodson, while perhaps best known for winning season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter, was last seen fighting Demetrious Johnson earlier this year. While he failed to capture the title he did give Johnson his most difficult test to date since moving down to flyweight. While there wasn't much known about Montague before this fight he is regarded as a wrestler and actually has as sizable amount of wins by finish. The fight is largely uneventful until the end, which in typical flyweight style comes fast. If you're not paying attention you may miss the finish and only capture the victory celebration but as far as KOs go you'll wanna see this one.
Gabriel Gonzaga has gone 3-1 since his return and has looked rather good beyond being finished in by Travis Brown. To me Gonzaga, while a lethal jiu-jitsu practitioner, will always be remembered as the guy who headkicked Mirko Cro Cop, in what is my favorite knockout of all time. Gonzaga although unsuccessful in the title department since originally losing to Randy Couture back in 2007 has almost always put on entertaining fights. For better or worse he hasn't had a fight go to decision since 2010 and may be one of the few heavyweights to fight 4 times within a year, UFC 166 marking his fourth. Shawn Jordan, Gonzaga's opponent, has been on a successful run himself since entering the UFC. He holds a record of 4-1 with his only loss in the UFC coming from Cheick Kongo. He is noted for his big hands and powerful punches and while he was largely controlled by superior wrestling control I thought it would be interesting to see how tough his chin was against another powerful hitter. This fight, like many heavyweight fights, ends quickly. Perhaps surprisingly this fight is the quickest fight of the night. Just like the first fight it ends in devastating fashion.
So, this match is hard to describe without giving away too much, as well as hyping too much. Gilbert Melendez, former Strikeforce champion, was unsuccessful in his last fight in attaining the UFC lightweight title. His opponent, Diego Sanchez, is best known as The Ultimate Fighter winner of season 1 of the middleweight division. He has since become one of the most loved fighters in the UFC thanks to his particular style of fighting that often turns fights into "fight of the year" candidates. This fight is no different. To me, this will most likely go down as fight of the year. I'd almost be willing to bet on it if it weren't for two or three other fights this year and we all (or most) know how sometimes voting goes in the MMA world. So, while I could talk about this fight I think it best if you watch it for yourself and decide. Either way this is the kind of fight that I have a hard time saying there is a definite loser as both men took away something from this fight.
In the co-main event Daniel Cormier fought against Roy Nelson. Daniel Cormier is best known as the man who won the Strikeforce heavyweight Grand Prix. He was undefeated going into this fight and he was successful in his debut fight in the UFC against Frank Mir. Roy Nelson is a fan favorite known for his big right hand that has put away a considerable amount of fighters. His main problem though is that he seemed unable to break against the top tier of the heavyweight division always losing just in arms length of a title shot. This was an interesting fight for the reason that both men had stated beforehand that this fight was looking to like one of, if not the, last fight for these men at heavyweight before their move down to light-heavyweight. Unfortunately, this fight is the low point of the main card. It's passable as far as viewing so I have a hard time recommending it but the victor had the right game plan going in and executed it extremely well. Unfortunately this is the kind of fight that doesn't do much for either fighter in the way of standing since they have both announced their intention to move down to light-heavyweight.
The main event is the third fight in the Velasquez/dos Santos trilogy. Most MMA fans remember the night when FOX hosted their first UFC event where dos Santos finisehd Velasquez just over one minute into the historic fight. Then over one year later Velasquez would regain that same title from dos Santos in what may be one of the best complete heavyweight performances today. The third fight would answer a lot of questions in regards to who was truly the best in the world. The buildup for this fight was beyond epic and it really engrained a sense of "the be all to end all" of heavyweight fights. Truthfully, that is kind of what it is as these two are the clear 1 and 2 heavyweights in the world. Without giving away too much this fight more closely resembles the second fight than the first in terms of pace. Big shots are thrown and the fight goes all over the ring but this is not a quick one round fight. These men go to war and put on a real nail bitter of a fight. Although having said that I should mention that this fight does end by finish, in fact this goes on record of the being the latest finish in UFC history. As I said before, these 2 are the clear 1 and 2 heavyweight fighters in the world so I have a hard time seeing where these two fighters go after this.
Overall, this is the best card of the year in my opinion. From the finishes to the fantastic fights I think this is a clear cut winner for the UFC and if you buy one card this year this is the one. As a bonus, the DVD set contains both the first and second fight in the Velasquez/dos Santos trilogy as extras on the second disc which serves as a nice addition to the set given how the UFC DVDs have strayed away from behind-the-scenes features.