Since making his Octagon debut back in 2008, Junior dos Santos has been a formidable force in the UFC’s heavyweight division. The hard-hitting ex-champion will be looking to make another emphatic statement this weekend at UFC on FOX 17 when he faces Alistair Overeem in what should prove to be an explosive co-main event in Orlando.
The dangerous Brazilian striker has compiled an impressive 11-2 record during his time with the promotion. Eight of his wins have come by way of knockout. Dos Santos is noted for his superior boxing skills, concussive power and strength. Those traits were on full display when he initially captured UFC gold by blasting out Cain Velasquez in the first-ever UFC on FOX main event. His only Octagon setbacks have come at the hands of his chief rival as dos Santos and Velasquez are forever linked to their exciting trilogy of title fights.
The 31-year-old dos Santos has absorbed a tremendous amount of punishment in recent outings, and has been victimized by injuries. However, he remains intent on making it back to the top of the heap. He’s still holding down a No. 2 ranking and can definitely work his way into the title conversation with an impressive triumph this weekend. JDS also owns a previous victory over current champion Fabricio Werdum and would definitely relish the opportunity to prove his superiority again if “Vai Cavalo” retains his title against Velasquez at UFC 196.
After being out of action for over a year since a hard-fought decision victory over Stipe Miocic in a thrilling affair at UFC on FOX 13, “Cigano” returns to tangle with a foe that he’d previously been set to face twice. Dos Santos vs. Overeem has been a matchup that fans have been clamouring to see for years. They had a previous title fight at UFC 146 fail to materialize after Overeem failed a pre-fight drug test, and a scheduled matchup at UFC 160 was scuttled because of an injury to the Dutch striker. They’ll finally get a chance to settle their differences this weekend in Florida. With dos Santos finally back in business, here’s a look at his top five most destructive UFC performances.
5. Junior dos Santos vs. Frank Mir (UFC 146)
The former titlist Mir got the call to replace Overeem against dos Santos at UFC 146. However, he proved to be overmatched in their May 26, 2012 contest in Las Vegas. The standout submission specialist Mir was unable to get the fight to the ground and was picked apart by dos Santos in the stand-up department. The champion was able to get into a solid rhythm early on and nearly finished Mir late in the opening stanza after badly wobbling him.
The end would come in the second-round after dos Santos would once again hurt the challenger with a massive right hand. He would continue to batter Mir with follow-up punches until the contest was halted at the 3:04 mark.
4. Junior dos Santos vs. Mark Hunt (UFC 160)
Dos Santos would produce a highlight-reel finish of the ultra-tough Hunt at UFC 160. The May 25, 2013 contest was one with explosive potential and certainly lived up to the hype. It looked like dos Santos was going to make it a short night of it when he decked Hunt with a huge right hand less than two minutes into the contest. However the “Super Samoan” would survive and would land a few big punches of his own as the intense battle waged on. Dos Santos showcased his striking skills and toughness against an opponent with legitimate one-punch knockout power.
The end would come in the final frame as dos Santos closed the show in style. He was seemingly on his way to a unanimous decision victory when he landed a devastating spinning back kick to the head that sent Hunt crumbling to the canvas. He’d add a massive follow-up right hand to earn the finish at the 4:18 mark. The entertaining contest earned both men a Fight of the Night bonus.
3. Junior dos Santos vs. Shane Carwin (UFC 131)
Dos Santos had actually been slated to face fellow TUF Season 13 coach Brock Lesnar in Vancouver on June 11, 2011 but Carwin was named as a replacement after Lesnar was forced out due to a bout with diverticulitis. Dos Santos would lay a savage beating on the fellow knockout artist during a contest that somehow lasted the three-round distance.
Dos Santos almost finished Carwin in the opening frame after stunning him with a left hook. He would seize the advantage by badly bloodying his dazed opponent with a hellacious flurry of ground-and-pound punches. Dos Santos at one point seemed to implore referee Herb Dean to stop the fight. Carwin earned great respect for his toughness, but was thoroughly dominated on the scorecards as dos Santos picked up a the lopsided unanimous-decision win.
2. Junior dos Santos vs. Fabricio Werdum (UFC 90)
Dos Santos made an electrifying Octagon debut on Oct. 25, 2008 at UFC 90 when he blasted out Werdum in just 80 seconds in Illinois. Dos Santos would land a massive right uppercut as Werdum was attempting to land a right hand of his own. It marks the only time that the UFC’s current heavyweight champion has been knocked out in his 26-fight career. The victory earned dos Santos a Knockout of the Night bonus and was a definite sign of what was to come in his future UFC appearances.
There’s little doubt that UFC matchmakers could consider dos Santos for a title shot against Werdum if both men are triumphant in their upcoming fights against Overeem and Velasquez.
1.Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos I (UFC on FOX 1)
Dos Santos put on a spectacular performance in the promotion’s inaugural UFC on FOX card on Nov. 12, 2011 when he blasted out Velasquez in their heavyweight title clash in Anaheim, California. Dos Santos would stun the champion with a right hand behind the temple and would claim gold by finishing Velasquez with follow-up punches. The victory produced yet another Knockout of the Night bonus for the powerful Brazilian. While it looked like he’d rule the division for years to come, dos Santos would only make the one successful defense against Mir before losing his belt to Velasquez in their rematch at UFC 155.