At age 34, Junior Dos Santos still has plenty of fight in him and by the looks of his performance on Saturday, he could be around for several more years.
Dos Santos headlined UFC Fight Night 142 at Adelaide Entertainment Centre in Adelaide, South Australia opposite Tai Tuivasa and he was remarkable. “Cigano” avoided early charges from the Aussie, expertly moving from one side to the other and peppering him with counter strikes to the head and legs. Though “Bam Bam” landed a few decent punches in the first and hobbled the Brazilian with a nasty leg kick late in the frame, Dos Santos never buckled.
Dos Santos was visibly shaken by what appeared to be an injured knee to begin the second, but his vaunted punching power was never in question. After Tuivasa swallowed a right hook, he charged at Dos Santos and walked into a bristling left hook-right cross combo. Tuivasa crumbled to the canvas and was quickly mounted. Grom there, “Cigano” rained down hellfire until referee Herb Dean had no choice but to end things.
“He was kicking me on the leg and he did a pretty good job” Dos Santos said in an interview with FS1 following his victory. “I was feeling that. That’s why I stopped moving too much in the second round because I said it’s now or never because if I keep moving here, I’m not going to be able to move too much [later]. It worked. I connected with a good punch, he felt the punch and I finished the fight.”
Dos Santos was full of praise for his young adversary, though, and believes Tuivasa will have a bright future inside the Octagon.
“He’s still young,” JDS said. “I’m sure he’s going to do very well in his career. I’m going to keep going to the top. He’s very tough. I knew it, but he proved that he’s tougher than I thought. Man, I was hitting him hard against the floor and he was able to survive some of these punches, so he’s tough.”
The man that the Brazilian has in his sights next is one he hopes to exact revenge upon: Alistair Overeem. The two battled three years ago at UFC on Fox 17 in Orlando, and it was Overeem who prevailed. The Dutchman took Dos Santos out with punches 4:43 into the second frame. According to “Cigano,” the time is right for the rematch.
“Everybody knows that we fought back in the day,” he said. “He was able to win that fight; I think it’s the right moment to do the rematch.