Former UFC heavyweight champion, Junior dos Santos, will have an opportunity to secure the number one contender spot in the division when he faces Mark Hunt on May 25.
Dos Santos (15-2-0, 11 KOs) was originally scheduled to face Alistair Overeem on May 25, but Hunt (9-7-0, 6 KOs) stepped in as a replacement after “The Demolition Man” pulled out of the bout due to injury. The two will meet on the UFC 160 fight card, headlined by Cain Velasquez and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva — who’ll fight for the heavyweight title — at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.
After dethroning Velasquez at “UFC on Fox,” and successfully defending the heavyweight strap against Frank Mir, dos Santos ran into problems during his rematch against Cain — who dominated the Brazilian from start to finish. Velasquez hurt him early during their UFC 155 encounter, and he never gave Junior a chance to get back in the fight, overwhelming him with his strikes and takedowns on his way to the unanimous decision.
Even though it seemed like dos Santos simply didn’t show up for rematch against Cain, “Cigano” attributes his poor performance to his heavy reliance on his boxing skills.
“I was trying to fight standing all the time. But it’s MMA. You have to use jiu-jitsu and wrestling,” dos Santos said during a conversation with MMAjunkie.com Radio. “So now, it’s more clear to me. I have to use all my skills to win the fights, especially when you’re fighting against someone like Cain Velasquez.”
While many MMA fans would love to see Hunt and Junior slug it out at UFC 160, the latter made it clear he won’t hesitate to take the fight to the ground if things aren’t going his way.
“You have to get prepared to fight anywhere, and I’m training a lot in my jiu-jitsu skills, and I think I’m getting even more confident in that area,” dos Santos added. “If I feel I have to take him down, I will do that, and I will be looking to submit him.”
One paper, the matchup certainly seems to favor Junior, considering the level of opposition he’s defeated in the UFC and his superior BJJ skills. Hunt is currently on a four-fight win streak, but I wasn’t particularly impressed with his last performance against Stefan Struve at “UFC on Fuel TV 8.” Sure, the knockout at the end was fun to watch, but it’s hard to ignore how sloppy the fight was. Hunt’s gas tank was pretty much empty after the first round, and he gave Struve way too many opportunities on the ground.
The one thing Hunt has going for him is the fact that he has devastating punching power in his hands. Dos Santos’ head is certainly in the right place when he says he won’t hesitate to take Hunt to the ground when they square up at UFC 160, as it won’t be in his best interest to trade blows with the “Super Samoan.”