Junior dos Santos was one of many people surprised to see former foe and ex-UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez breathing heavy in his attempted title defense against Fabricio Werdum in June.
After losing to Velasquez twice in 2012 and 2013, dos Santos isn’t so sure he and Werdum faced the same version of the American Kickboxing Academy heavyweight.
“I think Werdum did well in his last fight, but in my opinion he did not fight the same Velasquez I fought,” dos Santos said to Combate (h/t Bloody Elbow). “Velasquez was exhausted in the first round. That was a complete surprise for me. He was exhausted in the first round. That’s unbelievable for someone like him, who fought 10 rounds against me. In the fifth round he was hopping like a kid, so that was odd.”
Werdum is unofficially set to defend his title against Velasquez in a rematch at some point in 2016, while dos Santos faces longtime rival Alistair Overeem at UFC on FOX 17 on Dec. 19. A victory for “Cigano” could mean big things for his title hopes, but only if the current champion retains his belt.
“If Velasquez shows up in his usual shape, I think he beats Werdum,” dos Santos said. “But if Werdum keeps the belt and I win my fight. I could be next [in line for a title shot]. It could happen.”
“Cigano” has only fought once since losing in his latest efforts for the UFC heavyweight title, defeating Stipe Miocic in a five-round unanimous decision at UFC on FOX 13. There’s a chance he’ll have to contend with the winner of Miocic vs. Andrei Arlovski and Josh Barnett vs. Ben Rothwell to determine the next title challenger.