Junior dos Santos has vastly improved his ground game since being submitted by Joaquim Mamute in 2007.
As Junior dos Santos preps for his showdown with Shane Carwin in the UFC 131 headliner on Saturday at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, questions persist regarding his unproven ground game.
Yuri Carlton, Dos Santos’ Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor, has supreme confidence in his ability to compete and win on the mat should the need ever arise.
“There’s this great expectation because they say he didn’t come from a jiu-jitsu background, but he’s a brown belt and has competed a few times,” Carlton told Sherdog.com. “He also trains on the ground with great guys, like Demian Maia, [Antonio Rodrigo] ‘Minotauro’ [Nogueira], [Antonio Rogerio] ‘Minotoro’ [Nogueira] and others.
“Dos Santos has a spectacular ground game and will show it when necessary,” he added. “A UFC fight is not jiu-jitsu. He has evolved a lot in striking, and the American public likes that, but I won’t be surprised if he takes someone to the grund. He showed he can do that against Roy Nelson [at UFC 117]. And I also won’t be surprise if he submits someone like Carwin. He’ll be ready for whatever happens in the fight.”
Dos Santos was originally booked to meet former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, the man who coached opposite him on Season 13 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” However, Lesnar’s second run-in with diverticulitis forced his withdrawal and opened the door for Carwin, arguably the heavyweight division’s heaviest hitter.
“There was this change, but it changed nothing for [Dos Santos]. It’s part of the game.” Carlton said. “He’s a phenom. I always tell him that the [heavyweight] belt will be his, and this will be the fight before he meets the champion. He’s a golden boy and trains hard. He will get inside on Carwin and be victorious.”
Dos Santos has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the UFC. Unbeaten in six appearances inside the Octagon, he can secure a title shot against reigning champion Cain Velasquez with a win over Carwin.
“He’s a prodigy,” Carlton said. “He trains a lot, and he’s very dedicated. He opted to become a professional MMA fighter. It has everything to do with him. It’s very easy for him to learn boxing, muay Thai and jiu-jitsu. “He’s complete, and he responds well to everything we do with him, to all the tasks we set before him,” the trainer added. “If I go to him and say that this is the day to give us a thousand jumps, he’d give us a thousand jumps. He will be the UFC champion.”