Dissecting Junior Dos Santos’s Loss

Dissecting Junior Dos Santos’s Loss


Many fans, including myself, who had picked Junior Dos Santos to defeat Cain Velasquez at UFC 166, were not shocked or surprised at Velasquez’s victory Saturday night, but were, however, shocked and surprised at the manner of it.

A good number of fans had written Junior’s previous loss to Cain off, as an anomaly. That JDS was over trained for the fight and that his head wasn’t in the bout; that given another kick at the can, “Cigano” would rule the day with his superior boxing. However, that proved not to be the case.

So what happened?

First, let’s consider what went right.

Junior’s cardio looked considerably better than it did in his previous outing with the champ and he at least caught Velasquez with some heavy shots; true enough.

Cigano and regardless of the punishment he had taken, was still in the fight and still delivering powerful blows to Cain deep into the bout; reasonable enough.

Further, Junior once again proved himself to be an unbelievably tough opponent and one that will take all the punishment that Velasquez can hand him, and had he not bounced his head off the mat in the fifth with less than two minutes to go, he might well have survived to lose by decision rather than by TKO; fair enough.

Beyond that, there’s not much else in the way of positives to focus on.

Regarding what went wrong, it boils down to a few things.

First, although Junior’s cardio was better, it still wasn’t enough; not even close. Cigano was visibly tired by the second round and although still maintaining power in his shots, they were slower, more cumbersome and all reactive. Simply put, by the end of the second Dos Santos didn’t have it in him to take the fight to Cain, even if he could have.

On this point, Velasquez was able to outwork, outpace, push around and generally exhaust Cigano. If there is ever to be a fourth fight between the two, then Junior must solve this problem. Whether or not he can beat every other fighter in division matters not, if his cardio can’t keep up with Cain’s for more than a round or two.

As Cain will not tire, any opponent that wants to challenge him for the belt will either have to have a similar gas tank or find a way to negate Cain’s. It’s that cut and dried. If a fighter can’t do that, then they’ll only have a puncher’s chance of beating the champ.

As to Cigano’s much vaunted boxing, it didn’t show up. The whole night, Junior stood in front of Cain and presented no angles. The only time he moved off was to evade Cain and in doing so, he offered no counters. As such, he was simply chased down, clinched and beaten up.  

All night long, Cigano was a sitting duck for Velasquez’s come forward style. Either standing there or backing up in a straight line, Junior demonstrated no foot work. It was simply non-existent. If JDS had one chance in that fight, it was that he had to work angles on Cain, keep him at range and deliver big bombs. He failed, miserably, in that effort.

On this issue and again, if there is to be a fourth fight between the two, Junior will need to solve this problem. Cigano has proven that no man in the heavyweight division is going to simply stand in front of Cain Velasquez and throw down, with him. It’s just not going to happen. The champ will simply plow through any fighter that attempts such a game plan. As such, Junior needs to go back to the drawing board on his boxing and become more mobile, elusive and effective in his counters.   

To the point, Junior the boxer was out struck by Velasquez the wrestler, 143 to 46.

Finally, Junior’s wrestling.

Junior is a big, strong, powerful man and even looks to be more physically intimidating than does Velasquez. However, he was shoved around and controlled by the champ at will and for the second time in a row. The champ dictated every aspect of the fight and most importantly, that it would happen up against the cage. And on that point, not once in the bout did Cigano reverse Cain while pressed up against it; simply put, he was owned. Further still, although the champ only scored two takedowns in the fight it would be safe to assume that he could have easily scored more, had he wished.

Further, at no time in the fight was Cigano ever the “general”. He fought on his heels all night, in reverse and rarely at the Octagon’s center. All of this, primarily, because he couldn’t deal with Cain’s wrestling.

In a nutshell, Junior’s grappling is not where it needs to be to defeat Velasquez, and that if he ever hopes to have a serious shot of beating him, then he’ll need to solve this problem, as well.

In conclusion, Cigano needs a major league upgrade in his cardio, boxing and wrestling in order to deal with Cain Velasquez, and if the second best fighter in the division needs it, then it’s a reasonable assumption that every other fighter in the division needs it, too; word to the wise for Fabricio Werdum and his upcoming bout with the heavyweight champ.  

Outside / Inside picture courtesy of Junior Dos Santos

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  • http://lowkickmma.com/author/Spyridon Spyridon

    In my opinion, the primary thing he needs is to get some top level wrestlers to train with (or to possibly train in America for awhile since that is where most of the top wrestlers hail from).

    The biggest reason both his cardio and boxing were not effective is because he had no answer to Cains wrestling.

    You could have Diaz-level cardio, and still be completely ineffective if you are getting pushed against the fence the whole fight (we've seen it before enough times).

    That's the same reason his boxing offense fell apart too. He was too concerned about attempting to defend the wrestling and caught up fearing the wrestling, that it wasn't even on his mind to attempt to mount an offensive.

    He's obviously out of his comfort zone against a wrestler that can control him, which isn't too surprising since before Cain there was no wrestler that was able to actually control him so much.

    Once he fixes that flaw, or maybe even incorporates some wrestling in to his own game plan, he'll once again be a top competitor for the heavyweight title.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/author/Entity Entity

    Yea, not keeping away from the cage and allowing yourself to constantly be backed up against it was silly on his part. JDS needed to pick and move. It is what it is, bad game planning for the 2nd time is not acceptable.

    • http://lowkickmma.com/author/BrianCox Brian Cox

      Stewie, I though he'd come out and do that whole Muhammad Ali, float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, thing. As you said, stick and move. It was really dumb. Sorry, to say.

      Oh well, he sure is one tough dude. I just don't know that I ever want to see him go through that, again. I respect him for his toughness, but that was getting really ugly.

      I wonder if the UFC will cut him? :-)

      • http://lowkickmma.com/author/BrianCox Brian Cox

        For the record…I meant that JDS's game plan was dumb, not Entity's remark; not sure if that was clear.

        And wondering about JDS being cut, is a joke.

        • http://lowkickmma.com/author/HunterB HunterB

          better clear that up, Stewie is known to come find people who etray him

          • http://lowkickmma.com/author/HunterB HunterB

            fml betray*

    • http://lowkickmma.com/author/thexperience1 thexperience1

      Well… the way i see it, its a lot more plain and simple than than. JDS SIMPLY HAD NO CHOICE! It's not like that was his game plan or he chose to do that. Cain forced him to do so and that only shows how great Cain really is. His strategy was get in JDS face, stay there and beat the living sh*t out of him and that's exactly what he did. JDS had no more than a punchers chance coming into this fight as i said before. He got lucky in the first fight and landed a great shot behind the ear. Cain was the superior fighter then, he's the superior fighter now and he will still be the superior fighter if there's ever a 4th fight in the future. Oh and let's not forget that Cain was not just outwrestling JDS he was outstriking him too! He was faster and looked way more crisp!

      • http://lowkickmma.com/author/BrianCox Brian Cox

        TE, I made note of all of it.

        Cain put him up against that fence and there was precious little JDS could do about it. He never reversed him once and he was out struck better than 3 to 1.

        You were right on this fight. I was totally wrong. I am more than happy to admit, that JDS was lucky in the first fight and nothing more. Further, he will never beat Cain if he can't improve his wrestling and cardio, at a very minimum.

        I've watched the whole card a few times, now and every time I watch it I'm blown away with how amazing it was. Cain was the cherry on that night.

        • http://lowkickmma.com/author/thexperience1 thexperience1

          Yes..! that was an amazing card! and even though i expected CAIN/JDS 3 to go down that way it still blew my mind how he just completely dominated him considering JDS is a destroyer himself and ran through the HW division like a freight train and then Cain comes out and stops him like he's Superman… It's a page straight out a DC comic book…

          • http://lowkickmma.com/author/BrianCox Brian Cox

            TE, you are so right. JDS is a destroyer of men, and if the destroyer of men, can't beat Cain, then what is Cain? Lex Luthor or Doctor Octopus?

            Again, enough can't be said about Cain's dominance, the card in general or Melendez / Sanchez in particular.

            Special shout-out goes to JDS for hanging in for as long as he did. God bless his big Brazilian heart and chin.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/author/Ivy Ivy

    Excellent breakdown Brian.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/author/SatelliteMan SatelliteMan

    Great analysis, but I think slightly oversimplified. JDS wanted to stay against the fence because it's much easier to defend the TD – notice he defended the majority of the takedowns. His cardio gave out not because his cardio stinks, but because Cain wore him down with his wrestling.

    • http://lowkickmma.com/author/BrianCox Brian Cox

      Satellite, I doubt Junior's plan was to be up against the fence as such. It was a brilliant performance, by the champ.

      • http://lowkickmma.com/author/SatelliteMan SatelliteMan

        Agreed he didn't intend to get locked up on the fence, but it's fairly obvious he intended to use the fence to prevent the takedown.

        In my opinion JDS' gameplan was: box, use fence for TD defense, circle off fence, box. He probably thought Cain's gamelan was to gnp him and he figured this is the best way to keep the fight standing and deploy his arsenal.

        • http://lowkickmma.com/author/Zip Zip

          Funny you mention 'box' and 'circle' as part of his gameplan.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/author/Zip Zip

    Create angles and CIRCLE, as a boxer he knows this. So disappointing. Congrats to Cain though, well deserved.

    • http://lowkickmma.com/author/BrianCox Brian Cox

      Agreed, Zip.

    • http://lowkickmma.com/author/SatelliteMan SatelliteMan

      Disappointing indeed.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/author/cranestyle cranestyle

    Boxing needs space, and Junior lost the fight as soon as he got stuck on the fence. Cain totally GSP'd him!

    • http://lowkickmma.com/author/BrianCox Brian Cox

      Crane, as a GSP fan, I had a similar thought and a follow up article I want to write on the subject.

      As a JDS fan, and I picked him in the fight and for the space and boxing reason's you laid out, I felt nothing but frustration in watching the fight.

      At every corner, Cain had him. He was like a wet blanket and it never came off. The things that I've celebrated GSP for, I was cursing in Saturday's fight. He just couldn't get off of him and create any space.

      I actually walked away from the bout, having more respect for Rush and his game.

      Damn, Cain is a bad a*s.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/author/Warheadchief Warheadchief

    Cain would have dropped ( and mauled) Junior a lot more, but JDS used the cage to hold him up a lot in that fight. The cage also helped Juniors body absorb the punishment. In a dark field, JDS wouldn't be alive today. Cain would have mauled him like a bear.

    • http://lowkickmma.com/author/Zip Zip

      Easy War, without a cage there would have been space. Without space goes Cain's gameplan. Think again. Really, think about it.

      • http://lowkickmma.com/author/BrianCox Brian Cox

        Zip, that's a very "street" analytic; snap on that, one. Good for you.

        • http://lowkickmma.com/author/Zip Zip

          Phooey. Meant 'with' space goes Cain's gameplan.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/author/HunterB HunterB

    Really though? Why does Brian Cox reply to almost every reply in all his articles? Can you help me Brian Cox? I like your stuff but some of the replies are hard to go through because….

    for one I've already read your opinion in your article

    two alot of the replies are just defending your original article.

    like most of the articles sir, just wondering on the replying thing, it used to not be like this, maybe except for Evan

    • http://lowkickmma.com/author/HunterB HunterB

      I like most of the *

    • http://lowkickmma.com/author/Zip Zip

      So, Brian engages more and follows his articles. What's wrong with that?

      • http://lowkickmma.com/author/BrianCox Brian Cox

        Zip, I'm on the horns of a dilemma on this one. If I reply to Hunter, I'm guilty of replying; which is his point or complaint. If I don't reply to him, then I'm guilty of being rude.

        Not sure what to do, here. :-(

        • http://lowkickmma.com/author/Zip Zip

          Well, when you break it down I see no dilemma. There is no point, and the complaint is weak. Let em have it Brian :)

  • http://lowkickmma.com/author/rookybobby rookybobby

    Junior has to keep his hands up, he got hit with shots that he could've blocked or deflected at the very least and he also should set up his powerful shots, he caught Cain with a few hard blows but Cain saw most of them coming. As far as his wrestling is concerned, he's definitely gotten better. I think if Junior would've circled away from the cage it would've been more advantageous to him, being stuck on the cage gave Cain the advantage to wear him down.