HOUSTON – Junior Dos Santos' face told the story of his third fight against Cain Velasquez.
Unfortunately for dos Santos, it was the same story it told after the pair's second heavyweight title fight at UFC 155 this past December – the story of a fighter who had spent the better part of five rounds getting beat up.
And dos Santos was the first to admit it, telling Joe Rogan in the cage after his fifth-round TKO loss to the heavyweight champion at UFC 166, "He beat me up, man."
But this time, Velasquez's face was talking, too. It showed that dos Santos was getting his fair share of punches off, despite being down on all three scorecards going to the fifth round before being stopped that round.
Despite what analysts and fans on social media were quick to applaud as "warrior spirit" from dos Santos for walking through everything the champ had to give, UFC President Dana White said if he was in the challenger's corner, things wouldn't have had to go that far.
"I would have thrown in the towel," White said after the post-event news conference for UFC 166, which took place at Toyota Center in Houston.
That's something that seldom happens in MMA. To think that it might happen from the corner of dos Santos, a former heavyweight champion who is regarded as the No. 2 fighter in the division, but now one whose Kryptonite apparently is Velasquez, might seem far-fetched.
But White believes that would've been best for the Brazilian.
"I had Tillman Fertitta, Lorenzo and Frank's cousin, sitting next to me and asking me, 'How does this work? Can you throw in the towel?'" White said. "I was like, 'That's a good f---ing question. I think if I throw the towel in, I'll get beat to death by his corner and half of the the fans here – and probably next time I (go) to Brazil.'
"I don't want this to come out the wrong way, but I always like to say if anybody in his f---ing corner cares about him, please, throw in that towel."
Dos Santos getting through the rest of the third after absorbing a big barrage from Velasquez may be seen as admirable. But then he took plenty more punishment in the fourth – and somehow survived, and even got off a few punches and elbows of his own.
The loss dropped dos Santos to 1-2 in his trilogy with Velasquez. At UFC on FOX 1 in November 2011, dos Santos scored a 64-second knockout to take the title in what then was Velasquez's first defense of the belt. But at UFC 155, Velasquez administered a five-round beating. And Saturday's fight in Houston looked much the same.
"I think that fight should have been stopped in the third," White told MMAjunkie.com.
"Is Junior dos Santos tough enough and does he have the heart to go through it? Yeah, but does that mean he should? I mean, if you look at the fight, that guy took seven or eight minutes more of punishment that I believe he didn't need to take until it ended. That seven or eight minutes, I don't know, I don't like it.
"... If you watch that third round again, when he's getting hit, his arms are [by his side]. He's not defending himself. He doesn't have his hands up. He's out."
But referee Herb Dean let things continue into the fifth as dos Santos kept plodding forward, throwing whatever he could.
Both fighters said before the fight that the third bout in their rivalry would tell the true tale of who is the better fighter. Now dos Santos goes back to the drawing board and will try to work his way back up the ladder. This time, it might take him longer than just one win in between title fights. Velasquez likely gets Fabricio Werdum next sometime in 2014.
"Two vicious beatings – vicious," White said of the latter two fights in what was called the greatest rivalry in UFC heavyweight history. "By the end of the first round going into the second, his face was already starting to look different. I mean, Cain beat him up both times real bad."