5 Defining Moments: Junior dos Santos

By Mark Raymundo Nov 27, 2018


The heavyweight division has seen a resurgence, with the likes of Derrick Lewis, Curtis Blaydes, Francis Ngannou and Alexander Volkov moving up the ranks. Junior dos Santos is a veteran who refuses to drown out amid this tough competition. He is now ranked No. 8 and perhaps needs two or three more victories to break back into the top 5.

When the Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to Australia on Dec. 1, he will go up against hometown hero,Tai Tuivasa. Expect “Cigano” to go for the kill as the fight unfolds at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre. Let’s look back on the career of this hard-hitting Brazilian with five of his numerous career-defining moments.

Building a Reputation

Junior dos Santos garnered five straight victories before getting signed by the UFC. Fighting in his home country of Brazil, he stopped all of his opponents in devastating fashion -- one by submission and four by KO or TKO -- all in the first round -- with one coming in under 60 seconds. Going into his Octagon debut, dos Santos was a still an unknown prospect, especially in the United States. But after earning Knockout of the Night honors by starching his compatriot Fabricio Werdum in just a little over a minute, a new heavyweight contender was born.

Knocking Out Knockout Artists

After the victory over Werdum, dos Santos would win eight straight. His striking game was put to the test when he was pitted against fellow KO enthusiasts like Mirko Filipovic, Roy Nelson, Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez. The aggressive, but technically sound Brazilian defeated every opponent presented to him and went on to capture the UFC heavyweight belt and successfully defend it once before losing to Velasquez in their rematch.

Improved Accuracy, Decreased Strike Absorption Rate

Dos Santos challenged for the title three times, two against Velasquez and one versus Stipe Miocic. In his first nine fights in the UFC, dos Santos landed a total of 408 strikes and absorbed only 142. However in his last six bouts before challenging Miocic for the title, he went 3-3 and landed 479 strikes and absorbed 461. In his three setbacks, he was outstruck a combined 266-125.

Bouncing Back, Losing Momentum

Getting back on track after a monumental loss is in every fighter’s mind, especially in a division where there is a surplus of contenders. After that long streak to start his UFC tenure, dos Santos would alternate wins and losses, which showed that he can bounce back but have problems building on the momentum.

Reasserting His Dominance

Dos Santos recently displayed old form by dominating Blagoy Ivanov. He completely outstruck the UFC newcomer and former World Series of Fighting heavyweight king, 110-51. The fight went five full rounds, with the Brazilian taking each of them. He also moved better and strung together combinations more efficiently.

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