Today marks the four year anniversary of one of the great UFC cards in recent years.
UFC 166 had plenty of great fights and was headlined by a heavyweight title fight. While unknown at the time, this card would create some of the most interesting storylines that are still relevant today.
Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos 3
Trilogies are a rare occurrence in the UFC, so when they happen it is something to watch; #CainVelasquez vs. JDS might be one of the best trilogies in the history of the sport. All three were title fights, and the two were 1-1 heading into UFC 166. Cain controlled the fight at 166 and was looking like he would easily take the decision. But that wasn't good enough for him. Velasquez slammed JDS to the canvas and followed up with a series of punches to finish the fight in the fifth round, earning the third latest finish in UFC history, at the time.
#DanielCormier's Final Fight at Heavyweight
Cormier is the current champion at 205 pounds, but he spent the early part of his career as a heavyweight, in which he fought the likes of Bigfoot Silva, Josh Barnett, and Frank Mir. Undefeated as a heavyweight, he finished his run in the division against Roy Nelson. Cormier controlled the pace for most of the fight and was able to take Nelson down multiple times before winning by unanimous decision. In the postfight interview, he announced his move to light heavyweight and — without saying his name — called out Jon Jones.
Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez Put On the Fight of the Night
Sanchez is no stranger to "Fight of the Night" performances. Prior to this fight, he had six FOTN Awards, including three in a row at welterweight. Melendez was also capable of putting on exciting fights, but had never match his energy to earn a postfight award.
Until UFC 166.
These men were ready to brawl and Sanchez got a bad cut above the eye in the first round. Melendez continued to land punches and won the first two rounds easily. Sanchez's coaches told him he needed to go out and finish the fight, and he came out for the third round like a demon, forcing Melendez to backpedal. After the fight was nearly stopped for Sanchez's cut, he dropped Melendez to the canvas and went for a choke instead of the ground and pound. Melendez escaped and he was able to weather the storm for a unanimous decision win. Dana White acknowledged that this was an easy pick for FOTN.
John Dodson Rebounds from DJ Fight
Dodson was a rising prospect in the UFC. He had won The Ultimate Fighter as a bantamweight and then quickly transitioned to flyweight to try and surge in the new division. He earned himself a title shot, but came up short to Demetrious Johnson. In his first fight since the loss, he returned at UFC 166 against newcomer Darrell Montague.
"The Magician" put on a clinic of speed and accurate punches against Montague, repeatedly rocking him throughout the first round. There was nothing left but for Montague to drop to the ground as Dodson secured the first-round finish and the Knockout of the Night to get his career back on track.
Tony Ferguson Starts Incredible Win Streak
Ferguson has turned himself into one of the most dangerous lightweights in the UFC. He currently has the longest win streak in the division with eight, tied for the division record. But that had to begin somewhere. At UFC 166, Ferguson was coming off a unanimous decision loss to Michael Johnson, snapping a six-fight win streak. Trying to get back on the horse, Ferguson took on Mike Rio, who was coming off his first loss in the UFC.
Ferguson got out of the gate and started applying the pressure immediately to Rio. Ferguson worked his ground game and secured a submission victory via D'Arce Choke in the first round. Though known for the D'Arce now, this was the first time "El Cucuy" won by using it. This fight earned Ferguson the "Submission of the Night" and kickstarted his win streak in the UFC. He's pushed that streak to 10 straight and is now the Interim Lightweight Champion.
UFC 166 was a tremendous success for the sport, both with the quality of the fights and the financial aspect. It will also go down as one of the cards with the most storylines stemming from it.