Junior Dos Santos is undoubtedly one of the best heavyweights on the planet. He very well may be the best heavyweight on the planet not named Cain Velasquez.
“Cigano” has lost to reigning heavyweight king Velasquez twice the last two years, once at UFC 155 in December 2012 and again at UFC 166 in October 2013. Velasquez completely dismantled dos Santos in both outings and left the Brazilian bloodied and beaten.
However, dos Santos claims that other heavyweights should not use those fights as a blueprint to beat him:
“I believe that most of the heavyweights, based on my recent fights with Velasquez, think that the best way to fight me is put pressure the whole time, but you have to understand that Velasquez is Velasquez,” dos Santos told MMAFighting.com. “Velasquez has an incredible cardio for a heavyweight. It’s hard for any other heavyweight to do what he does.”
JDS will make his highly anticipated return in the main event of UFC on FOX 13 this Saturday (December 13, 2014) against rising contender Stipe Miocic. Ironically Miocic is a very similar fighter to Velasquez, a strong wrestler who maintains crisp boxing and a high pace .
The Ohio native could give dos Santos problems, but like he said, there is only one Velasquez. Another note to make is that besides the reigning champ, “Cigano” has destroyed every other heavyweight he has faced. According to JDS, he’ll be ready if Miocic tries to take him down and do what Velasquez did to him:
“If Miocic manages to take me down and keep me there, I won’t shy away from fighting on the ground,” he said. “I will go for the submission. Maybe I’ll score my first submission victory in the UFC.
Miocic has a good boxing and he uses that in most of his fights. I believe that he will stand for a bit, but with a plan B of putting some pressure and taking me down with his wrestling. No matter what he does, I will focus on what I am going to do.”
Getting the fight to the ground may be Miocic’s best chance to win. While dos Santos’ grappling has been questioned for quite some time, his boxing is undoubtedly some of the best in MMA. JDS is arguably the best boxer in the heavyweight division and possesses brutal knockout power. If an opportunity arises for the Brazilian on the feet, Miocic could easily end up unconscious on the canvas.
It has been over a year since dos Santos last competed, and he’s made some changes to ensure greater success in the future. One of the biggest changes was moving to Rio de Janeiro to train at Nova Uniao with Jose Aldo and Renan Barao. Because of that, “Cigano” believes this has improved his game quite a bit and he has evolved immensely:
“It was a complicated year for me, but I’m hungry to get back to competition, put on my best performance and get the victory,” dos Santos said. “I love to fight, and I’m happy to be able to fight again. When I moved to Rio de Janeiro, my goal was to become a complete fighter, ready to fight anywhere.
Life is evolution, especially when you’re an athlete. I have evolved a lot since I came to Rio, I see the fights from a different perspective now,” he added. “You have to get out of your comfort zone to evolve, and that’s what happened to me. I hope I can show my fans how much I have evolved.”
After a year on the shelf, dos Santos is looking to come back with a bang and eventually get his belt back:
“My intention is to fight and start a win streak. I don’t choose opponents. My job is to fight and win,” dos Santos said. “My goal is to be the number one, and I will work hard to get there again. I had to evolve, work on new strategies and feel good, and it happened. I’m on an excellent team and things will happen. I will get this title soon. I will win my fights and they can’t deny me another shot at the UFC title.”
Will JDS rule the heavyweight division once again, or will he simply be an elite gatekeeper to Velasquez’s throne?