Former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos was last seen losing a one-sided drubbing at the hands of Cain Velasquez at UFC 166 in October 2013, his second straight loss to the dominant champion.
While the beatdown put him miles away from true title contention “Cigano” is still ranked No. 1 in the division and has a big match-up against Stipe Miocic in the main event of The ultimate Fighter (TUF): Brazil 3 Finale on May 31.
Today, however, dos Santos has his focus set on tonight’s (April 19, 2014) pivotal UFC on FOX 11 main event between Fabricio Werdum and Travis Browne. The winner is slated to earn a title shot against Velasquez, who will tentatively return from shoulder surgery this November. Speaking to MMAFighting.com, dos Santos said he gives a slight edge to “Hapa”:
"It’s a close fight. Werdum is really good on the ground and his chances of winning this fight are on the ground. I think that Browne is a slight favorite in this fight, but anything can happen. I will cheer for Werdum because he’s Brazilian."
Dos Santos may be cheering for Werdum, but it’s Browne who most are picking to emerge victorious and move on to face Velasquez. Whoever does, according to “Cigano,” will be the decided underdog against Velasquez. He explained why:
"MMA is not an exact math. It doesn’t matter if you’re the favorite or not, if you’re not in a good day things can go wrong. Velasquez would be the favorite against any of them, but they can surprise him.
Travis can go for the knockout, and Werdum does well on the ground. Velasquez’s best weapon in the wrestling, but I think he would change his game in a fight with Werdum. He wouldn’t risk going to the ground against Werdum, so it’s up to Werdum to get better in his standup game and force Velasquez to go for the takedowns."
With a sharp analysis of the top rungs of his division, you can bet “Cigano” wants nothing more than to get his fourth shot at Velasquez. Many believe that is already a forgone conclusion, but dos Santos’ work begins this May. Will he work his way back to another shot at the title?