LAS VEGAS -- The first time Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos tangled, a network television audience watched dos Santos score a knock out in 64 seconds and take the UFC heavyweight title.
Thirteen months later, Velasquez came back for revenge. The Salinas, Calif., native put in a dominating performance Saturday night and reclaimed the gold in the main event of UFC 155 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Velasquez dominated dos Santos for 25 minutes and won via unanimous decision.
The judges' scores were 50-45, 50-43, and 50-44.
"It feels very good," Velaquez said. "I came back stronger. I have to keep getting better. That's it man, it feels good to get this."
Velasquez, who was an NCAA All-American wrestler at Arizona State, dictated the tempo from the outset. While few opponents have ever been able to take the Brazilian dos Santos off his feet, Velasquez pushed forward and took his opponent down early and often.
A big overhand right rocked dos Santos in the first round, during which Velasquez came closest to finishing the fight. The second and third pounds were repeats, as Velasquez worked at furious pace while dos Santos was unable to gain control.
While the pace slowed over the final two rounds, they produced no better results for dos Santos, as Velasquez cruised to victory.
"It's a good feeling, this was the hardest fight I've ever been in," Velasquez said. "I was so tired, but I pushed through it. My coaches pushed me to do this. This was for them."
In avenging his only career loss, Velasquez improved to 11-1. Dos Santos lost for the first time in his four-year UFC tenure and dropped to 15-2 overall.
Dos Santos was gracious in defeat. But he also hinted at the obvious trilogy fight in the making.
"Tonight, he was better than me," dos Santos said. "He punished me, it's very unusual for me to take punches, but he walked forward all the time. His grappling game was tremendous. Congratulations for him. I'm going to come back and I'm going to take my belt again."
While the crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena waited for UFC 155's main event, a Fight of the Year candidate broke out.
In a thrilling lightweight battle, Jim Miller and Joe Lauzon went back and forth over a grueling 15 minutes before Miller took a unanimous decision. In the first round, Miller, a New Jersey native, used sharp striking to open a horrendous cut on Lauzon's forehead. Lauzon was cleared to continue by a UFC doctor and managed to weather the storm for the rest of the round.
A tight second round saw both fighters earn advantage time on the mat. In the third, Miller got the best of the standup, but Lauzon, of East Bridgewater, Mass., nearly stole the fight with a flying heel hook in the final seconds. Miller (22-4) took 29-28 scores on all three judges' scorecards. Lauzon dropped to 22-8.
Costa Philippou stated his case in the middleweight division with his biggest victory to date, an impressive TKO victory over Tim Boetsch of Sunbury, Pa. A Cyprus native and Long Island transplant, Philippou started slow in the first round.
But by the second, Philippou found his legs and began to dictate the fight's pace, although he was aided by an accidental eye poke. By the third, Philippou opened a deep cut on Boetsch's forehead. Philippou rained down right hands to the downed Boetsch before the fight was called at the 2:11 mark.
Philippou (12-2, 1 no-contest) won his fifth straight fight; Boetsch (16-5) had a four-fight win streak snapped.
In a painfully dull middleweight fight, Kanigawa, Japan's Yushin Okami stopped Alan Belcher's momentum with a unanimous decision win.
Okami repeatedly took the Biloxi native to the mat. But once there, Belcher managed to effectively tie Okami up and keep the Japanese veteran from doing much of anything with his position. Judges' scores were 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28.
Belcher (18-7) had a four-fight win streak snapped, while Okami (28-7) won his second in a row. The bout was a rematch of a 2006 fight, also won by Okami via unanimous decision.
In the main card opener, Derek Brunson of Wilmington, N.C., was successful in his UFC debut, as the middleweight scored a unanimous-decision win over veteran Chris Leben.
All three judges scored the bout 30-27. Brunson (10-2), a former NCAA Division II All-American wrestler, was able to use his takedown ability to smother Leben and render ineffective his slugging skills.
Leben, an Oregon native, was making his UFC return after a year off to deal with alcohol and drug issues. Leben dropped to 22-9, with losses in three of his past four fights.