MMA mailbag: Did Velasquez land illegal punch?

Kevin Iole
Yahoo! Sports
MMA mailbag: Did Velasquez land illegal punch?
Junior dos Santos (above) won't be an easy opponent for Cain Velasquez

Cain Velasquez' first-round technical knockout victory over Brock Lesnar in their match for the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight title Oct. 23 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., got a lot of mixed martial arts fans talking.

I answer your questions and comments about Velasquez' stunning win and the implications of it in this week's edition of the MMA mailbag.

Illegal blow led to Lesnar's demise

Has anyone reviewed the tape of the Brock Lesnar-Cain Velasquez fight Saturday at UFC 121 and looked at what happened with 2:17 remaining in the fight? Velasquez visibly punches Lesnar in the back of the head at that point. Lesnar was not going down until this punch landed. There were no replays after the fight. Lesnar was clearly still able to function before this illegal blow. As soon as he was hit, his knees buckled and he fell to the ground and grabbed the back of his head, then was just trying to protect himself. Will this be reviewed? Lesnar should have been given time to recover as UFC rules grant. There was nothing mentioned and no replays shown. Will Lesnar get his title back and his record corrected and will there be a rematch as a result of this foul?
Ashley Graham
Springfield, Ill.


Ashley, the finish of the fight occurred directly in front of where I was sitting, plus I have watched the replay several times. There was nothing illegal that occurred. Just before the closing sequence, Lesnar stumbled from one side of the cage to the other. When he regained his balance, Velasquez landed a combination of punches that hurt Lesnar. Then, Cain landed a knee that sent Lesnar stumbling toward his right. He was clearly hurt at this stage. Cain followed with a right that landed on the ear, which is legal. Brock went down and Cain finished it on the ground. Nothing untoward occurred and the result won't be overturned, nor should it be.

Does dos Santos have the formula?

Kevin, Lesnar lost his title because he could not keep Velasquez down and utilize his superior wrestling, and lost it on his feet to a superior striker. My question is, will this also happen to Velasquez when he takes on Junior dos Santos? Dos Santos has a great takedown defense, and even Cain called Junior "the best striker in the division."
Eric
Westerville, Ohio

I believe dos Santos is a more difficult style matchup for Velasquez than Lesnar, but I still would pick Velasquez to win that fight. I think Cain's boxing is better than dos Santos' wrestling, and that will be a big factor. Cain was able to take down Lesnar, who has far, far better takedown defense than dos Santos. It's no easy fight for Velasquez, but I believe he'll come out on top.

How would Lesnar fare against Fedor?

In light of the Velasquez-Lesnar result, can you comment on how you think a Fedor Emelianenko-Lesnar match or Velasquez-Emelianenko match would go? I think most people would like to hear your take on those matchups.
Alex N.

Brock's biggest weakness is a questionable chin and horrendous defensive boxing. Fedor is a hard puncher, and I think he'd hurt Brock on the feet and finish him similar to Cain. I think a Velasquez-Emelianenko bout would be an amazing match. I'd favor Velasquez now because he's more in his prime, but I wouldn't totally rule out an Emelianenko win.

How about a Velasquez-Emelianenko bout?

When shall we witness an encounter between Fedor Emelianenko and Cain Velasquez? Could you pose this question to UFC president Dana White?
Franklin Kufe
Toronto

There is no need to ask White about this, as Emelianenko has repeatedly declined to sign with the UFC when he's had the opportunity and has shown no interest in ever doing so. I doubt they'll ever fight.

Marketing of Velasquez was offensive

Please tell Dana White that Cain is not a Mexican, he's an American. It was disgusting how they played him up as being Mexican when he was born in the U.S. and is an American citizen. I've been a longtime UFC fan and it was sickening to watch White and Velasquez sell out their country for money.
Shannon McPherson

I wasn't offended at all, and it's ludicrous to suggest they sold out their country. Velasquez is a first-generation American of Mexican heritage. The UFC played up his heritage because there are many, many Hispanic fight fans, and it wanted to build awareness of the fight in that community. That's business and there is nothing wrong with it. If they promoted it using racial stereotypes, that would be one thing, but all they did is point out the fact that there had never been a heavyweight champion of Mexican ancestry in any combat sport. They then marketed a fighter to an audience that would be receptive toward him but which may not have known about him otherwise.

No lengthy championship runs

You said in your recent article on Cain Velasquez that "No one has had a lengthy reign as UFC champion, so history would suggest that Velasquez will surrender the belt sometime soon." Anderson Silva has had the middleweight belt since about 2006, so how is it that "no one" has had a lengthy reign as a UFC champ?
Brian Harley
Upper Marlboro, Md.

Thanks, Sherlock, but we were discussing the heavyweight division.

Brock took a dive

If you ask me, Brock sold himself out. I have seen Lesnar fight, and he has never looked as weak and clumsy. Cain is a great fighter but to win like this? No. It wouldn't happen like that, and certainly not that quickly. I don't think even Cain believed it at the end. It sure seems fishy to me. In a rematch, I see Cain losing. Only time will tell.
Jesse Lucio
Houston

I wouldn't have even run this question because it is beyond ridiculous, but I got so many similar questions that I felt compelled to answer. I should mention, though, that there is always an outcry of a fix among some percentage of the fan base. Lesnar looked similar in the first round against Shane Carwin. He has bad standup defense, went down and was in trouble against Carwin. The problem for Carwin was that he didn't have the same cardiovascular endurance that Velasquez has. The television show "Sports Science" tested Velasquez and found that he has the cardio of a marathoner. Plus, the force of his punch was greater than any boxer they ever tested. Given that Lesnar is clearly a bad boxer – he hits hard, but has bad technique and no defense – and Velasquez is a powerful striker, it was no surprise to see the outcome. There was nothing fishy about it.

Brock still a neophyte

I think the reason people rip Brock Lesnar so much for losing to Cain Velasquez is because the UFC promoted him as the best fighter in the world. No doubt, he is the UFC's biggest star and probably still will be despite this loss, but Brock has a long way to go. He uses his brute strength to win fights, and he doesn't use his head. He needs to realize he can't just bully everyone. Shane Carwin and Velasquez are proof of that, and Brock needs to think before he leaps. I believe the reason he ended up losing the fight is because he underestimated Cain. If Lesnar wants to get his title back, he needs to come back smarter, not stronger.
Mike H.

I agree with much of what you say, Mike. Brock is such a freakish athlete that he's been able to win at the highest level despite his lack of technique. That's largely due to his power. He's an incredibly hard hitter, and he's so strong that he bullies opponents to the ground. Give Lesnar the technique that Velasquez has, and he would be one of the most dominant fighters in history.

Nailing Velasquez prediction

Kevin, I have to say that you picked Cain Velasquez to win and did he win! I was surprised at how badly a seemingly invincible Brock Lesnar went down by Cain's super-accurate striking. Do you think that Lesnar can ever rebound now that his aura of invincibility was smashed to bits by Velasquez? Also, do you think Jake Shields is a boring as I do? I hate watching him fight.
Joel Engle
Fort Worth, Texas

I've been impressed by Velasquez from the first time I saw him, and so I was not surprised he was able to lift the belt from Lesnar. He's a strong guy himself, has the best cardio in the division and incredible technique. As for Brock's aura of invincibility, I still think Lesnar is going to be a handful for most fighters. He's going to struggle with boxers, but if he gets someone on his back, it's going to be a long night for that fighter. I don't mind watching Jake Shields fight, but I don't care to see him fight when he's winded early in the second round.

Lesnar was overrated

Why won't you just admit that Lesnar was overrated? Apart from knowing he had a great double-leg takedown, almost nothing was known about him. Now, after having been badly pummeled in two straight fights, perhaps the mystique of the 5-2 fighter should be put into real perspective. And as far as quick moving heavyweights, have you ever heard of Fedor? He's only been fighting for a decade and had a 30-fight win streak.
Bill Bagot
San Diego, Calif.

I don't think there was much mystique there, Bill, and everything was in perspective. Lesnar was a brute force who was too big and too strong for a lot of guys he'd face. He proved against Carwin that he could take a great deal of punishment and rebound. No one ever tried to portray him as a complete fighter. Improving? Of course. But he's far from a finished product, and we didn't portray him as if he was.

No interest in Lesnar-Mir III

I say a resounding "no thanks" to a proposed Lesnar-Frank Mir III. Having watched the previous two bouts, Lesnar has pretty much dominated. I know he was submitted in the first fight, but does anyone think that will happen again? In an MMA fight, anything can happen, but Lesnar and Carwin both showed that Mir has problems with large, strong heavyweights. I don't see anything new in Mir that would make me think a third fight would be more competitive than the second one. Also, everyone keeps talking about how deep and talented the heavyweight division is. If that is so, then why would Lesnar fight Mir again? It would be his seventh fight with the promotion and his third fight with Mir. I would rather see him fight Carwin again, and Mir fight Roy Nelson. I think those are more interesting fights.
Marko
Bakersfield, Calif.

Carwin is injured and had to pull out of his match with Nelson at UFC 125 on New Year's Day, so he's not going to be available to fight Lesnar any time soon. I'm not all that intrigued by a Lesnar-Mir fight, because I agree with you in that I don't see how Mir can change the outcome. But I think the dislike the men have for each other will help it to sell very big, which is why we're going to see it.