By Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports
SYDNEY – Cain Velasquez passed his first major test, planting himself firmly into championship contention with a first-round stoppage of former heavyweight champ Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at 2:20 of the first round in UFC 110 before 17,431 at Acer Arena on Saturday (Sunday in Australia).
Velasquez landed a right hand, a left hand on top of the head and followed it with a right hook on the chin that knocked Nogueiera onto his back. Velasquez immediately pounced upon him and finished him with five punches on the ground.
Referee Herb Dean hopped in to stop it.
“I wanted to stay in good position and beat him to the punch when I could,” said Velasquez, who is now 8-0 overall and 6-0 in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Velasquez, a former wrestling standout at Arizona State, could get the next shot at heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar. Frank Mir and Shane Carwin will meet for the interim title at UFC 111 on March 27. If the winner is healthy enough, he’ll meet Lesnar in July or August. If not, Velasquez will get the shot. And as he proved, he’s a legitimate championship contender.
Wanderlei Silva won an emotional victory over Michael Bisping, using a late knockdown to pull out a unanimous decision victory in Silva’s debut at middleweight.
The fight was even after two rounds on all three cards and the fight hung in the balance as the clock wound down. But the former PRIDE middleweight champion landed a huge windmill overhand right that landed behind Bisping’s left ear.
Bisping went down, but there was only about six seconds left and he was unable to finish it.
The bout didn’t have the high-octane punches many expected, but was a very good technical battle. After the fight, Silva, who had plastic surgery to remove scar tissue and help open breathing passages in his nose, began to weep.
“In life, we all have bad moments,” Silva said. “Everybody has bad moments, but if you believe in God and work hard, the good moments are going to come.”
They came for Silva late in this grudge match, which featured a lot of trash talking. Bisping was animated when the decision was announced, but was gracious later.
He praised Silva as an icon of the sport. He knew, though, the final knockdown was key. “I think the reason he got the decision was the knockdown at the end,” Bisping said.
George Sotiropoulos thrilled the large crowd with a superb jiu-jitsu performance in a back-and-forth ground battle with Joe “Daddy” Stevenson.
Sotiropoulos, a native of Geelong, Australia, dominated the first round, mostly on the ground, putting Stevenson in several bad positions.
Stevenson fought back and each of the last two rounds were close, but Sotiropoulos did enough to win each of them. All three judges had it 30-27 for Sotiropoulos, as did Yahoo! Sports.
Light heavyweight Ryan Bader, the winner of Season 8 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” knocked out veteran Keith Jardine with a powerful left hook in the third round. Bader hurt Jardine with a right hand.
He tried a flying knee that only partially landed, but he followed Jardine to the cage and ripped him with a left hook. Jardine fell in a heap, his right leg behind him, and referee Josh Rosenthal quickly jumped in to stop it.
Heavyweight Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic manhandled late replacement Anthony Perosh and stopped him at the end of the second round on a bad cut. Filipovic opened the cut with an elbow while he was in Perosh’s guard. The fight was stopped between rounds.
Chris Lytle submitted Brian Foster with a knee bar at just 1:41 of the first after Foster took his back.
Krzysztof Sosyznski won by third-round technical knockout over Stephan Bonnar when a clash of heads opened a huge gash on Bonnar’s forehead. Replays showed it was clearly a head butt, but referee John Sharp ruled it a punch and so when the fight was stopped, it was recorded as a knockout.