A lot of questions were in need of answering before the main event. Can Cain bounce back after almost 2 years on the sidelines? How will the Mexico City altitude factor into the fight? Is Werdum a legit contender to the Heavyweight belt? We got answers to all 3.
Fabricio Werdum walks away as the unified UFC Heavyweight Champion after submitting Cain Velasquez in the third. The Brazilian took it to the former Champ with clinic in standing combinations, avoiding the standard clinch and brawl strategy that Velasquez brought to the fight. By the end of the second round, Velasquez looked like a battered man. Something that only Fabricio could have foreseen. In the opening of round 3, Werdum continued to land strikes, forcing Velasquez to take a desperate double leg and ultimately fall into a tightly secured guillotine; garnering the tap moments later.
Werdum walked into this fight a completely unwarranted 4-1 underdog, and tonight's result speaks to why. The BJJ specialist has some real crisp striking which has already proven to challenge some of the Heavyweight divisions heavy hitters, in Hunt and Browne. However there might be some stiffer tests on the way, with Junior Dos Santos, Stipe Miocic and Andre Arlovski all beginning to emerge as contenders to the new Champion.
Cain was subdued in the Post Fight presser and took the loss with humility, giving all the props to the new Champion for being the better man on the night. Realistically, Velasquez can't be too far away from another fight with Werdum. The UFC hype machine can easily sell the altitude as being a factor in this fight, should they want to head toward an immediate rematch. Otherwise, a quick dispatch of an emerging Heavyweight contender (which Cain is known to do) could put him in line down the road.
In tonight's co-main, Eddie Alvarez took on Gilbert Melendez. Alvarez looked to be on the way out of the fight after the first round, when his left eye became swollen shut thanks to an elbow from Melendez. But Alvarez took the fight to Gilbert in the second and third, mixing in a varied striking attack and take down attempts, forcing the fight to the full stretch and walking away with a split decision.
While Alvarez put on a gutsy performance to fight back with one eye, Melendez seemingly gave away the fight with a lack of action in the last 2 rounds. Again, the question can be asked if the altitude factored into the result.
Kelvin Gastelum made a successful return to the Middleweight division, with a second round TKO of Nate Marquardt. The TUF 17 winner stalked Marquardt in the first, willingly exchanging on the feet and shooting in for the clinch and take downs. Kelvin continued to dominate Marquardt in the second, securing dominant positions on the ground and crushing the UFC vet with heavy ground and pound. Marquardt was unable to respond to the onslaught, with the round closing as Joe Rogan called for the referee to stop it. Marquardt's corner wisely threw in the towel in between the second and third rounds, giving Kelvin the TKO victory.
While Gastelum has publicly stated his willingness to go back down to Welterweight in his next fight, I personally think he could do some serious damage at 185. He looked much quicker than Marquardt in the striking exchanges and seemed as dominant as ever in his wrestling. While a lot of that may be contributed to a comparison against an aging Nate Marquardt, I still believe he should test himself against some tougher competition at Middleweight, before considering another punishing weight cut to 170.
The full card results are below.
Fabricio Werdum def. Cain Velasquez via third round guillotine submission
Eddie Alvarez def. Gilbert Melendez via split decision
Kelvin Gastelum def. Nate Marquardt via second round TKO (unable to answer 3rd round)
Yair Rodriguez def. Charles Rosa via split decision
Tecia Torres def. Angela Hill via unanimous decision
Henry Cejudo def. Chico Camus via unanimous decision
Efrain Escudero def. Drew Dober via first round guillotine submission
Patrick Williams def. Alejandro Perez via first round guillotine submission
Johnny Case def. Francisco Trevino via unanimous decision
Cathal Pendred def. Augusto Montano via unanimous decision
Gabriel Benitez def. Clay Collard via unanimous decision