After getting his name cleared and receiving the go signal from the United States Anti-Doping Agency to fight again, Junior dos Santos finds himself back inside the Top 10. At UFC Fight Night 133, he will have the chance to go deep into the ladder when he faces Blagoy Ivanov, a former World Series of Fighting heavyweight champion and a multi-titled sambo practitioner who has a win over Fedor Emelianenko.
The two will come to blows on July 14 at the CenturyLink Arena in Boise, Idaho. Before the cage gates close, here are the numbers that define a Brazilian eager to get back to title contention:
8: Wins by KO or TKO, second in the UFC heavyweight division’s history. Opponents who have tasted the power of his strikes include Mark Hunt, Frank Mir, Cain Velasquez, Gabriel Gonzaga, Gilbert Yvel, Mirko Filipovic, Stefan Struve and Fabricio Werdum. Dos Santos has also garnered three “Knockout of the Night” bonuses.
1: Stoppage victory via soccer kick. Before it was banned in most promotions, dos Santos scored a soccer kick knockout in his very first professional fight. It happened in Bahia, Brazil, at an event titled “Demo Fight 1.”
9: Fight winning streak, a record in the heavyweight division. In 2008, he debuted in the Octagon as an Unknown Fighter pitted against Pride Fighting Championships veteran in Werdum. Many consider this victory as the biggest upset of that year. He went on to snatch the title from Velasquez three years later. His successful streak ended when he lost the rematch (and the title) to Velasquez.
5: Current or former UFC heavyweight champions faced. Apart from Werdum and Velasquez, the American Top Team standout has fought Mir, Shane Carwin and the recently dethroned Stipe Miocic.
2: “Fight of the Night” honors. Dos Santos earned his first “Fight of the Night” bonus with a destruction of Hunt in their title eliminator at UFC 160. The end came at 4:18 in round 3 when the former champ unleashed a rare spinning hook kick to drop the Kiwi. And at UFC on Fox 13, he decisioned Miocic to garner his second “Fight of the Night” award.
2: Times listed by Sherdog.com in its “All-Violence Team.” He made it to the third team in 2010 with wins over Yvel, Gonzaga and Roy Nelson. The following year, he entered the first team with his conquests of Velasquez and Carwin.
8: Main event appearances. Dos Santos brings to the cage a high degree of intensity compounded by his two fists. As a result, he was tapped to headline a total of eight UFC events.
34: Years of age and still has time to reclaim the heavyweight title. He was born on Jan. 30, 1984.