UFC 166 is in the books, and it really did live up to the hype; The potential barn burners delivered, the epic trilogy between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos was put to bed and there was plenty of awesome finishes. The card really was very enjoyable from top to bottom, and also gave us some points to consider.
On a night headlined by a UFC Heavyweight title bout between two titans, and filled with so much talent, it was always going to be a great card. So, on to the main points of interest from the evening. First and foremost:
Cain Velasquez is a badass
I know I picked against CV ahead of 166, but I had good reason (kinda); JDS looked stronger than ever since his loss to CV, and I thought he was a solid bet with the KO factor. Alas, the biggest lesson we learn in the aftermath is that you shouldn't bet against Velasquez, because the guy is a beast. After being stunned in the first, Velasquez went on to put a bloodier beatdown on JDS then in their second scrap. Dominating Cigano in every position, battering him with punches and elbows, and tossing him to the mat at will. My thoughts at the moment Herb Dean stepped in? This guy is unstoppable.
Diego Sanchez and Gilbert Melendez can really put on a fight
'The Dream' and 'El Nino' went to war at UFC 166, and the result was a thoroughly exciting bout. My early lock for FOTN was accurate and it proved the mass opinion that these two guys are likely to fight on in the UFC for the remainder of their careers. Melendez may still be looking at another title shot too; the decision was clearly in the favor of Melendez and Sanchez's post fight opinion that the match was a draw is slightly bias. Sanchez is a six-time FOTN winner, and Melendez has kick-started his UFC run very well. Expect to see many more thrilling shows from these two, but I don't think Sanchez's idea of a rematch will come to fruition any time soon.
Gabriel Gonzaga is back
Gonzaga has spent a total of 1m50s of cage time in his last two UFC outings, scoring devastating knockouts on both occasions. Moving to 5-1 in his last six, Gonzaga is looking like a new man at HW. After losses to just about everyone in the UFC between 2007 and 2010, Gonzaga was sent packing to the lower leagues and won the reality fighting (?) championship belt. The bout was impressive enough to earn 'Napao' another UFC run, and last night was a culmination of his striking advancement and his coming of age as a fighter. His new found standup skills and amazing grappling could see him matched vs. JDS in the near future, in a rematch of their UFC 2010 bout.
Honorable mentions go to Roy Nelson for most predictable fight plan, Adlan Amagov for most like a Hitman performance, Kyoji Horiguchi and Andre Fili for break through performances and Junior Dos Santos for channeling the inner rock and lasting an astounding 4 1/2 amidst an absolute hurricane of fists.
Outer Photo: Andrew Richardson for USA TODAY Sports