UFC flexes strong fall schedule with Velasquez defense, Jones-"Rampage"
The Ultimate Fighting Championship is pursuing Nov. 19 as the date that heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez will make his first title defense against once-beaten Junior Dos Santos at San Jose's HP Pavilion, company chairman Lorenzo Fertitta told The Times Thursday.
Velasquez hasn't fought since October, when he upset champion Brock Lesnar at Honda Center in Anaheim by first-round TKO. Velasquez underwent shoulder surgery after the fight, forcing the layoff.
His first defense will be stout, given how Dos Santos (13-1, 8 KOs, three submissions) dominated former interim champ Shane Carwin at UFC 131 in Vancouver.
The news comes a day after the UFC confirmed new light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones will make his first title defense Sept. 24 in Denver against former champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson of Irvine.
The dynamic, 23-year-old Jones (13-1) became champion in March with a brilliant display of the acrobatic kicks and maneuvers that have made him one of the UFC's most popular fighters. He defeated Mauricio "Shogun" Rua by third-round TKO.
A hand injury derailed a previously scheduled Jones fight against another ex-champ, Rashad Evans, who remains in line to fight the winner of Jones-Jackson.
The charismatic Jackson (32-8) is 4-1 after losing his belt in 2008. He dropped a May 2010 decision to Evans, but rallied with a split-decision triumph over ex-champion Lyoto Machida in November, then beat Matt Hamill convincingly by decision in May.
The UFC fall schedule was already strong after the announcement of an Oct. 27 welterweight title fight between UFC champion Georges St-Pierre and Strikeforce champion Nick Diaz at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Photo: Cain Velasquez. Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty Images.