x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

MMA: Dos Santos retains UFC heavyweight title with strong win over Mir

Brazilian champion impresses in first title defence as heavyweights shine on UFC 146 card.

Junior Dos Santos celebrates defeating Frank Mir at UFC 146
Junior Dos Santos celebrates defeating Frank Mir at UFC 146

LAS VEGAS// UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos flattened Frank Mir to retain his title and emphasise his dominance of the fight league's top division.

Dos Santos, who held a 15-1 record going into the bout, picked apart the two-time former champion with superior boxing throughout the fight before dropping Mir with one last blow to the head.

The Brazilian then wrapped himself in his national flag as he celebrated his first title defence since defeating Cain Velasquez last autumn.

"I'm feeling awesome!" Dos Santos told the crowd afterwards.

"It's not bad for a nice guy, huh? ... Frank Mir is a really good fighter, too. I came here to defend my belt, and I did it."

Dos Santos never faced trouble in the fight's eight minutes after easily avoiding an opening-minute takedown attempt by Mir, who hoped his superior jiu-jitsu skills would allow him to avoid Dos Santos' unparalleled striking ability. Mir, who turned 33 on Thursday, has the most heavyweight victories in UFC history, but he couldn't match Dos Santos' skills.

"He's a champ," Mir said. "He's fast. I couldn't get out of the way. He hit me hard. There were just too many of them, and they were hard shots. I couldn't do anything about it."

Dos Santos kept the fighters on their feet - except when he staggered Mir late in the first round and again midway through the second. Mir stumbled back several steps after Dos Santos' decisive right hand, and Dos Santos added one last head shot before referee Herb Dean saved Mir.

"That surprised me a lot," Dos Santos said. "Man, this guy can take a punch. My hand is hurt."

Elsewhere on the card, former champ Velasquez stopped Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva late in the first round after administering a bloody beating that both thrilled and horrified fans at the MGM Grand Garden.

Velasquez (10-1) put Silva away in 3:36 of the first round, but only after pulverising the 6-foot-4 Brazilian with a relentless series of blows following an early takedown.

"I knew he was going to be a tough guy to finish, and he posed certain threats," Velasquez said. "But I'm happy I was able to go in there and perform. I took my time and waited to get good position to turn it on and finish the fight."

The fight was stopped once to allow Silva's corner to clear the blood from his eyes, but Velasquez promptly resumed the beating until the fight was stopped. The former Arizona State wrestler was ferociously impressive in his first bout since losing the belt to Dos Santos in the UFC's first prime-time Fox show.

"What you've done in the past, you've got to get over that," Velasquez said. "This is a step in the right direction."

The 32-year-old Silva appeared to be outmatched in his UFC debut after a lengthy mma career highlighted by his dominant win in the Strikeforce promotion over Fedor Emelianenko in February last year.

Earlier, Nelson stopped Dave Herman with an overhand right just 51 seconds into the first round, and Miocic remained unbeaten with a second-round win over heralded prospect Shane Del Rosario. Towering Dutch heavyweight Struve stopped Lavar Johnson in the opening pay-per-view fight.

Elsewhere on the card, popular British fighter Dan Hardy ended his four-fight losing streak with a first round win over Duane Ludwig, while CB Dollaway won a points decision over Jason Miller, and Jamie Varner scored a surprise victory over Edson Barboza Jr in the lightweight division.

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