LAS VEGAS — Cain Velasquez throws wheel kicks now.
The former heavyweight champion finished Travis Browne via strikes on the ground at 4:57 of the first round. However, that came after he surprised everyone in the arena with a spinning wheel kick. The heavyweight bout was a featured prelim at UFC 200 on Saturday inside T-Mobile Arena.
Velasquez (14-2) surrendered his title in a submission loss to Fabricio Werdum in June 2015. The two were supposed to fight again earlier this year, but Velasquez was forced to pull out due to a back injury. His return was a successful one, as he hurt Browne with the wheel kick and dropped him with an overhand right.
Near the end of the round, Browne was on the floor and couldn’t even prop himself up anymore as Velasquez delivered blows to the head from behind. Referee John McCarthy elected to step in, just three seconds shy of the break.
“I have a lot of respect for Travis,” Velasquez said. “He fights hard. It feels good to be back and fight in front of everyone and get a win.
“I want to fight the best guys. Whoever the UFC wants, but I want to fight the best guys.”
Fighting out of American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California, Velasquez displayed the same pressure style that has twice made him a UFC heavyweight champion. Browne looked hurt and sluggish from the onslaught. He threw everything he had into a counter right elbow that missed badly and set up a Velasquez takedown.
Velasquez improves upon an already stellar UFC record. His biggest issue has been staying healthy, as he has lost time to injuries to his knee, shoulder and back.
Pena outworks Zingano for decision win
Bantamweight Julianna Pena (8-2) outworked former title challenger Cat Zingano (9-2) on the floor, en route to a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28). A former TUF winner fighting out of Spokane, Washington, Pena lost the first round after she allowed Zingano to take her down and land elbows from the top. She surrendered another takedown in the second round, but started to assert her own skill on the floor. She swept Zingano multiple times in the later rounds and came close to submitting her with a rear-naked choke in the middle frame. Pena, 24, missed the first half of 2016 due to a legal issue, but has now won four in a row. Zingano, who was also coming off a long layoff, is now 2-2 in the UFC.
Hendricks loses second fight in a row
Welterweight Kelvin Gastelum (12-2) added a big name to his résumé, as he defeated former champion Johny Hendricks (17-5) by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28). Gastelum, 24, kept a high pace on Hendricks, peppering him with the jab and mixing in a straight left that appeared to stun Hendricks in the opening round. Hendricks made enough of an adjustment to start landing his own, dangerous left hand, but Gastelum wore it well. Hendricks, a former NCAA national champion in wrestling, didn’t appear interested in taking the fight down until late in the third. He converted one takedown, but Gastelum rose to his feet quickly. Hendricks, who missed weight for the bout, has lost three of his past four.
Dillashaw dominates Assuncao for unanimous decision win
Former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw (13-3) defeated Raphael Assuncao (23-5) via unanimous decision, taking one step closer to a rematch against current champ Dominick Cruz. Dillashaw was the far busier fighter, out-landing Assuncao in total strikes 79 to 42. He bloodied Assuncao with a counter right hand in the second round and dropped him with another right hand moments later. Assuncao, who defeated Dillashaw in a controversial split decision in 2013, looked flustered throughout. He hadn’t fought since October 2014 due to injury. Dillashaw, who fights out of Denver, bounces back from a split decision loss to Cruz in January.
“Super” Sage wins third fight in the UFC
Lightweight Sage Northcutt (8-1) showed heart in earning his third win in the UFC, a unanimous decision against Enrique Marin (8-4). Marin appeared on the verge of a major upset when he caught Northcutt in a deep armbar in the second round. Northcutt managed to survive and would escape a kimura later in the round, as well. In the deciding third, Northcutt, of Katy, Texas, won a key scramble and landed enough offense from top position to secure the win. The 20-year-old prospect is 3-1 in the UFC.
Lauzon destroys Sanchez
Lightweight Joe Lauzon (26-11) blitzed through Diego Sanchez (26-9) with a first-round TKO victory. The official time of the stoppage was 1:26, but it could have probably come sooner than that, as referee Mark Smith allowed a wounded Sanchez to take a long series of unanswered punches while he was trapped on the cage. A powerful right hand finally brought Smith in. Lauzon, out of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, has alternated wins and losses in his past five.
Mousasi scores 20th KO of career
Middleweight Gegard Mousasi (39-6-2) recorded the 20th knockout of his career, as he finished Thiago Santos (13-4) with a booming punch at 4:32 of the opening round. Mousasi, who offered to fight Daniel Cormier after Jon Jones was pulled from UFC 200, was in control throughout. He beat Santos on the feet and wrestled him to the ground with little resistance. Mousasi is 4-1 in his past five fights.
Miller finishes Gomi in Round 1
Veteran lightweight Jim Miller (26-8) made quick work of Takanori Gomi (35-12), finishing him with strikes on the ground to collect a TKO victory at 2:18 of the first round. Miller scored an early takedown and threatened with a rear-naked, before switching to punches to the side of the head. It’s his first win of 2016.