As Bruce Buffer, the veteran voice of the Octagon, rang in the main event Saturday evening, change was in the air. That unmistakable cry echoed past the restless chants and cheers of nearly 15,000 fans, punching the walls of the Honda Center in Anaheim. The 121st Ultimate Fighting Championship had reached its pinnacle.
The lights went down. Drunken bellows of “Cain!” and “Brock!” hushed to mystical “oo’s and “ah’s,” splintered with the shrill of whistling. And then, a singular man obliged the crowd’s rising anxiety as he pierced the stadium walkway. “Brown Pride” adorning his chest, Cain Velasquez stepped into his glory. Trumpets blared around Cain as his entrance song, Vicente Fernandez’s “Los Mandados,” paid tribute to his immigrant father. This was his time.
Cain finally in his corner of the Octagon, the lights dimmed once more. The contender peered out through the fencing surrounding him to meet the menacing eyes of his opponent. Brock Lesnar, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, glared back as he, too, made his way toward the battlefield. The sword inked across the champion’s bulging chest, the scruffy beard, the custom-made 4XL gloves that housed his mammoth fists, the twenty pounds he called his own advantage—none of it could break Cain’s poise. None of it mattered.
The two men met in the middle of the Octagon. As each sized the other up, thoroughly unimpressed, the crowd’s hysteria threatened to tear down the walls around them. But Cain didn’t hear any of it. All he heard was the resounding melody of “Los Mandados” to which his own heart thumped. They touched gloves and retreated to their corners.
From the Octagon’s center, Herb Dean, acting referee, gave a simple wave to commence the fight. Brows furrowed and fists clenched, Cain stepped out from his corner. Brock charged. The behemoth strained, frantically searching to take Cain to the ground—he was not used to failure. The two broke, but only for a moment. Fists swung and heads bobbed as they collided again. The fighters bounced back and forth off one another, and Cain held his own…for a moment.
Brock charged once more, this time with new results. Cain fell to the ground, impounded beneath the champion’s girth. He struggled a moment, and he was reminded of his father’s own struggles as an illegal immigrant. Only seconds after being taken down, Brown Pride rose from the ground. As they stood, Brock forced Cain to the fence, pinning him against it. After nearly a minute in the clinch, Brock once again slammed Cain to the mat. But this time Cain sprung up instantaneously, a new fire blazing in his eyes.
Left jab, left jab, right cross, left jab. The champion stuttered as he retreated from a lost encounter. Left jab, left jab, shot on the right leg. The crowd’s shouts were deafening as the two fell again, this time with Cain on top. A barrage of right and left hooks forced the champion to scramble.
Brock made it to his feet, but he was rocked. His next takedown attempt only proved embarrassing as a quick sidestep by Cain sent the champion tumbling across the Octagon. Cain pounced. Left, right, left, right, left, right, knee, right. Brock fell a final time. Brown Pride was mounted atop the fading sword, the champion unable to regain his composure. Four minutes and twelve seconds after gloves were touched, the challenger became the champion.
Those 15,000 boisterous fans witnessed victory—victory for Cain Velasquez, victory for the Latin-American community, and victory for the spirit of sport. In a pre-fight interview, Brock Lesnar addressed Velasquez: “After I’m done whooping your ass, I’m gonna go drink a Corona and eat a burrito just for your Hispanic heritage. How about that?” After the events of Saturday evening, Mr. Lesnar may need someone to chew his burrito for him.