Fabricio Werdum shocked the world, again. | Photo: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/UFC/Getty
Fabricio Werdum can now take his place among the all-time greats.
Werdum submitted Cain Velasquez with a third-round guillotine choke and captured the undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight crown in the UFC 188 “Velasquez vs. Werdum” headliner on Saturday at Mexico City Arena in Mexico City. Velasquez (13-2, 11-2 UFC) conceded defeat 2:13 into round three.
Velasquez for the first time in his career appeared to run out of gas. He brought the fight to the Brazilian in the first round, where he attacked with punches in the clinch, leg kicks and a pair of takedowns. Werdum did not flinch, and he turned the tide in round two. There, he shredded Velasquez with punching combinations, a stinging jab and knees from the clinch. Accuracy and output were keys. Afterward, the American Kickboxing Academy ace returned to his corner with cuts above both eyes, his breathing labored.
A little less than midway through round three, Werdum snatched the guillotine on an attempted takedown, fell to his back and finished it. The two-time Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist has won six fights in a row. At 37 years of age, Werdum (20-5-1, 8-2 UFC) now boasts submission victories over Velasquez, Fedor Emelianenko and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Related » UFC 188 Play-by-Play
Damaged Alvarez Edges Melendez
Former Bellator MMA champion Eddie Alvarez withstood significant damage to his left eye and eked out a split decision over Gilbert Melendez in the lightweight co-main event. All three judges scored it 29-28, two of them siding with Alvarez (26-4, 1-1 UFC), who has compiled an 11-2 record across his last 13 appearances.
Melendez (22-5, 1-3 UFC) was in charge in the first round, as he threaded a stiff jab through the Philadelphian’s defenses and connected on a wicked standing elbow to the face. Between rounds, Alvarez blew his nose as he returned to his corner, and his eye swelled nearly shut. The Blackzilians representative altered his plan from that point forward, as he initiated the grappling exchanges, struck for takedowns and neutralized a fatigued Melendez on the feet. He rocked the Cesar Gracie protégé with a spinning elbow in the second round and delivered another late in the third, cutting Melendez near the hairline.
The 33-year-old Melendez has lost three of his last four fights.
Gastelum Stops Fading Marquardt
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum stopped Nate Marquardt on a technical knockout in a featured battle at 185 pounds. Marquardt (33-15-2, 11-8 UFC) retired on his stool in between the second and third rounds, as he lost for the fifth time in six outings.
Gastelum (11-1, 6-1 UFC) spent the better part of two rounds abusing the former Strikeforce and Pancrase champion. Jabs and straight lefts were his weapons of choice early. He flurried on Marquardt in the closing seconds of round one, a left uppercut forcing the 36-year-old to cover up in a defensive shell along the cage. By then, it became apparent Marquardt had little left in the tank.
In the second round, Gastelum drove the weary Colorado-based middleweight to the canvas with a knee strike to the head, navigated the desperate scrambles that followed and smashed away with ground-and-pound. Elbows, punches and hammerfists flew, repeatedly bouncing Marquardt’s head off the mat. After the round, Marquardt retreated to his tool and informed trainer Trevor Wittman that he had endured enough.
Rodriguez Outduels Rosa, Wins Third Straight
“The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America” winner Yair Rodriguez outlasted American Top Team’s Charles Rosa on his way to a split verdict in an excellent three-round featherweight showcase. All three judges saw it 29-28, two of them siding with Rodriguez (5-1, 2-0 UFC).
Rodriguez set the tone with a spectacular start, as he fired away with wild kicks and knees that had his counterpart ducking for cover. Rosa (10-2, 1-2 UFC) delivered a single-leg takedown, only to wander into a tight triangle. The choke was in place for several tense moments before “Boston Strong” freed himself and maneuvered to Rodriguez’s back. In the second round, Rodriguez sliced open the American with a glancing elbow to the top of the head, countered a takedown into top position and denied the majority of his attempts to get the fight to the ground.
Rosa made his move in round three. Bleeding heavily from the cut and battling visible fatigue, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt secured a takedown inside the first 30 seconds, unleashed his ground-and-pound, dodged another triangle choke and forced Rodriguez to operate off his back. Alas, the finish he needed did not come to fruition.
Related » UFC 188 Prelims: Cejudo Gets Past Camus
Undefeated Torres Downs Hill
American Top Team’s Tecia Torres remained unbeaten, as she took a unanimous decision from fellow “Ultimate Fighter 20” castmate Angela Hill in a featured women’s strawweight affair. All three cageside judges scored it for Torres (6-0, 2-0 UFC): 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
Hill (2-1, 1-1 UFC) struggled to string together any meaningful offense. Torres executed takedowns in each of the first two rounds and spent the majority of her time working from half guard, dropping short elbows and punches. The 25-year-old ran out of steam in round three -- Hill denied her takedowns and scored on the feet and in the clinch -- but the outcome had long been decided.