Going into UFC 146, I imagined it would be near impossible for Cain Velasquez to usurp Alistair Overeem as the #2 ranked heavyweight in the world. After all, Overeem’s destruction of Brock Lesnar was a thing of beauty and Velasquez’s opponent, Antonio Silva, would not likely be disposed of easily.
Even though Velasquez was a considerable betting favorite over Silva, it was difficult to think of him defeating Silva in a more impressive fashion than his teammate Daniel Cormier did back in September. Cormier came out of nowhere and shocked the world by knocking out Silva in the first round. Surely Silva would come in much better prepared against the feared former champion Velasquez.
It turns out that all the preparation in the world could not have been enough to stop the first round savagery of the Velasquez onslaught. Velasquez grounded Silva immediately and made it a blood bath by cutting up the massive Brazilian’s face with a perfect elbow. From there, things went from bad to worse for “Big Foot” as Velasquez’s notorious pace kept accelerating and ended in a definitive first round TKO.
It was a thorough dismantling and destruction and it was even more impressive than Cormier’s shocker. It made the MMA world stop for a moment and say “Alistair who?”. Surely Overeem will be near the top of the heap when he does make his eventual return but regardless, Velasquez and champion Junior Dos Santos are clearly the two baddest men on the planet.
Dos Santos stunned Velasquez to steal the heavyweight strap, but the former champ is reinvigorated and more dangerous than ever. The first fight was a let down for many who thought it would be a knock ‘em down drag ‘em out war and now it looks like we will finally get to see that fight after all.
Velasquez is resurrected.
1. Junior Dos Santos. The champion looked near flawless in taking care of former champ Mir.
2. Cain Velasquez. He had a hicup in losing the belt to Dos Santos, now he likely gets a chance at redemption.
3. Alistair Overeem. After he fulfills his suspension, Overeem might get the title shot he was originally expecting.
4. Fabricio Werdum. Taking on Mike Russow next month should be no easy task for the regarded Brazilian.
5. Frank Mir. He could not take the champion down so he struggled, as expected.
6. Daniel Cormier. He has one more fight on his Strikeforce contract and your guess is as good as ours.
7. Josh Barnett. Barnett also has one more fight on his Strikeforce contract before likely heading to the UFC.
8. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Big Nog next faces the heavyweight division’s resident striker, Cheick Kongo.
9. Shane Carwin. There is no shortage of options for Carwin’s return to the octagon.
10. Antonio Silva. After two straight losses, Silva hangs on by the skin of his teeth. Mostly because it is not clear who could yet take this spot between Roy Nelson, Travis Browne, Mark Hunt, and others.