MEXICO CITY - Fabricio Werdum of Brazil defeated a rusty Cain Velasquez by tap-out in the third round to become the undisputed heavyweight champion at UFC 188 on Saturday night.
With 2:13 left in the third round, Werdum (20-5-1) took down Velasquez, who was coming of a 20-month layoff after suffering injuries in his shoulder and knee. It was Werdum's sixth straight win.
The Brazilian jiujitsu specialist was able to cut local favorite Velasquez (13-2) in the left eye in the first round and the former heavyweight champion struggled through the rest of the fight to overcome it.
"I was the underdog, but that gave me great motivation in the cage knowing that no one believed that I could do it... probably just my team and my family," said Werdum after the fight. "This is the best moment of my life, defeating Cain and becoming the world champion. I'm happy to be the best of the world."
Werdum was the interim champion after taking down Mark Hunt last November at UFC 180. That night he was supposed to take on Velasquez, who injured his knee and canceled the fight.
"A lot of people told me that my belt was a fake one, now I have two with me and no one can question me," Werdum said.
Velasquez started off strong coming after the Brazilian but slowly began to wore down and looked tired by the end of the second round, while Werdum, who came to Mexico 40 days before the fight, looked ready to go all five rounds.
"I saw that he was getting tired and I knew it was time to come after him," Werdum said. "I prepared for this fight for so long, I was going for the right time to a guillotine."
The Mexican-American Velasquez, who has a strong following in Mexico, apologized with the fans for his below-average performance.
"I was wrong, maybe I should have come earlier, I know that now, but Fabricio was the best tonight, there's no excuse. He fought well, with great technique, he's a good fighter," said Velasquez, who trained in Mexico City for two weeks before the fight. "I need to get back to training, keep the hunger and get ready for the next one."
Prior to the main event, Mexican-American middleweight Kelvin Gastelum (12-1) got a TKO in the second round to defeat Nate Marquardt (36-15-2), a 36 year-old former Strikeforce champion.
Gastelum, who missed the welterweight limit in two of his last three fights, was coming off the first loss of his career on January against Tyron Woodley. After Saturday's win, he wants a chance to go back to his former division.
In the lightweight division, Eddie Alvarez defeated Gilbert Melendez by split decision despite fighting with his left eye closed after taking an elbow to the face in the first round.
Also, strawweight Tecia Torres remained undefeated (6-0) with a unanimous decision over Angela Hill (2-1). In another fight, up-and-coming Mexican Yair Garcia (6-1) got a split decision victory over Charles Rosa (10-2) in a featherweight combat.
On the undercard, flyweight Henry Cejudo, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist in freestyle wrestling for the U.S., improved to 9-0 with a unanimous decision over Chico Camus (15-6).
"I was very sick the last three days, I suffered from food poisoning and I wanted to cancel but I did my best," Cejudo said. "I won the gold in Beijing, now I want to become a champion at the UFC."
Also, Ireland's Cathal Pendred (17-3-1) won a unanimous decision over Mexico City's Augusto Montano (15-2), Patrick Williams (8-4) defeated local fighter Alejandro Perez (16-6) by submission in the first round, and Efrain Escudero (25-9) took care of Drew Dober (15-3) by tap-out in the first round.