DALLAS (AP) - It was a return to remember for Vitor Belfort.
Belfort registered a technical knockout over Rich Franklin 3:02 into the first round Saturday night to win the headline bout of UFC 103 before a rabid, sold-out crowd at the American Airlines Center.
Belfort, returning to the UFC after four years fighting for other organizations, buckled Franklin's knees with a booming left hand, then jumped on top of him and delivered three devastating punches to the back of his head before referee Yves Lavigne stopped the bout.
Until his triumphant final flurry, Belfort displayed unusual patience, which he considers part of his evolution as a fighter.
"Many weapons I'm adding to my game, such as karate, and it's just something that I want to use right now," the 32-year-old Brazilian said. "In this fight, I was taking my time, I was feeling the fight. As soon as I land something, I make sure I have the zip code, the address and the social security."
For Franklin, a 34-year-old former high school math teacher, it was a disappointing defeat.
"We knew what his capabilities were with his hands," said Franklin, whose career mark dropped to 27-5. "Quite honestly, I don't remember what caught me. I'm remembering things in bits and pieces."
It was the fifth consecutive triumph for Belfort (19-8).
A former light heavyweight champion who blazed his way through the UFC ranks a decade ago as 'The Phenom,' Belfort returned in a 195-pound catchweight bout.
In the secondary match on the main card, Junior Dos Santos won a heavyweight bout over Mirko Cro Cop via TKO in the third round. Dos Santos overcame a cut around his right eye from a first-round kick and recovered after taking another kick in the groin during the second.
When the Brazilian Dos Santos caught Cro Cop, a 35-year-old former police officer who's a member of the Croatian Parliament, with a right knee to the jaw then a right hand into the left eye, Cro Cop verbally submitted.
Earlier, Paul Daley took out welterweight title contender Martin Kampmann by technical knockout 2:31 into the first round, while Josh Koscheck, a former NCAA Division I wrestling champion, needed just 1:25 to defeat 37-year-old Frank Trigg by TKO.
And Tyson Griffin won a second-round TKO over Hermes Franca. After knocking Franca down with a crushing right-hand to the jaw, Griffin pounced on him, unleashing a barrage of punches to the head until the fight was called.
In the final match before the main card, Efrain Escudero scored a first-round TKO of Cole Miller after 3:36 elapsed. Escudero knocked Miller down three times before the bout was stopped. And Tomasz Drwal overwhelmed Drew McFedries with a rear naked chokehold to win by tapout 1:03 into the second round of their middleweight bout.
Four of six preliminary bouts went the distance and were decided by the judges. Rafael dos Anjos and Vladimir Matyushenko won unanimous decisions over Robert Emerson and Igor Pokrajac, respectively, while Eliot Marshall defeated Jason Brilz in a split decision. Nick Lentz also took out Rafaello Oliveira by unanimous decision.
Rick Story forced Brian Foster into submission early in the second round of a welterweight bout, and Jim Miller was declared winner by TKO after 48 seconds of the second round after Steve Lopez injured his left shoulder.