ANAHEIM, Calif. — When Brock Lesnar found himself in trouble early against Shane Carwin in July, he turtled up, survived the onslaught and regrouped in the second round to claim a submission victory.
He tried to employ a similar strategy Saturday, but Cain Velasquez was having no part of it.
Velasquez got Lesnar into trouble and didn’t let the opportunity slip away, as he won the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight title with a first-round knockout in the main event of UFC 121 at the Honda Center.
"I didn’t expect that," Velasquez said of the quick victory. "I trained for a five-round fight. You can’t expect to stop it within the first round."
According to the UFC, the 28-year-old Velasquez, who was born in California, is the first Mexican heavyweight champion in modern combat sports.
After a back and forth start, Velasquez opened a cut on Lesnar and sent him staggering across the cage with several punches.
Lesnar tried to regain his footing, but Velasquez put him down with a knee to the head. Lesnar then tried to employ the same strategy he did against Carwin, as he covered up against the cage.
He finally pushed Velasquez off and rose momentarily to his feet, but Velasquez landed a punch to send him right back to the mat.
With Lesnar’s face now covered in blood, Velasquez started throwing punches and didn’t stop until the referee stepped in at the 4:12 mark.
"I expected nothing less (from him). He’s a great fighter," Lesnar said. "What can I say? He was better than me tonight."
Lesnar actually opened the fight by charging across the cage and attempting a takedown. Velasquez stuffed it, and the two traded shots against the cage. Eventually, Lesnar got the takedown. But Velasquez got right back up.
Lesnar tried to corral Velasquez against the cage but to no avail. Once Velasquez got some separation, he proved to be the better striker.
He then secured a takedown of his own but couldn’t hold Lesnar down for long.
This time, Velaquez’s striking took over and led to the fight-ending sequence.
The action-packed fight was in stark contrast to the bout immediately preceding it.
Jake Shields’ UFC debut proved to be anything but a showcase for the former Strikeforce champion. Shields, who was all but promised a title shot with a victory, extended his winning streak to 15 with an underwhelming split decision over Las Vegan Martin Kampmann.
The first round was vintage Shields, with the jiu-jitsu specialist getting the fight to the ground and transitioning into several good positions.
Shields, who had some issues dropping to 170 pounds after several fights at 185, appeared to tire badly in the second round.
He did enough to impress two of the three judges but not many in attendance, if the heavy booing was any indication.
Diego Sanchez put on a better show. The crowd favorite rebounded from a disappointing effort in his last bout and snapped a two-fight losing streak with an exciting unanimous decision over Paulo Thiago.
Sanchez started to take control in the second round and dominated an exhausted Thiago in the final five minutes.
Tito Ortiz fell to 0-4-1 in his last five fights by dropping a unanimous decision to Matt Hamill, who was coached by Ortiz on "The Ultimate Fighter."
Hamill struggled a bit on his feet in the first round, but took control in the second with a takedown. The final round was a mirror image, with Hamill controlling top position after securing a takedown holding Ortiz on the mat.
"I feel like I controlled the wrestling. That’s something I wanted to prove, because Tito is such a good wrestler," Hamill said. "I was able to control him. I still have a lot of work to do, but a win over Tito is huge."
Ortiz, a 35-year-old former light heavyweight champion, is nothing more than a shell of his former self and could find his spot in the UFC in jeopardy.
Brendan Schaub showed his standup superiority by winning all three rounds of a bout contested entirely on the feet against Gabriel Gonzaga to open the main card.
In the televised preliminary bouts, former "The Ultimate Fighter" contestants Tom Lawlor and Court McGee picked up victories.
Chris Camozzi and Sam Stout won split decisions on the undercard. Daniel Roberts submitted Mike Guymon, and Jon Madsen knocked out Gilbert Yvel in the first round.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5509.