The fight card for UFC 146 features several Brazilians in high-profile matchups, but none are more high-stakes than Junior dos Santos’ UFC heavyweight title defense against former Strikeforce titleholder Alistair Overeem.

Since joining the UFC in 2008, dos Santos has conquered a number of talented foes, including Fabricio Werdum, Gabriel Gonzaga and, most recently, ex-champ Cain Velasquez. While “Cigano” took on legendary striker Mirko Filipovic in 2009, the Brazilian has never faced a world-class kickboxer in his prime. That is exactly the task he faces with his next bout against Overeem, a grand prix champion in the world’s most prestigious standup event, K-1.

“I think it’s the ultimate test for my striking,” said dos Santos, who has publicly contemplated an Olympic boxing bid for 2016. “It’s still the biggest challenge. He was a K-1 champion, which is the greatest striking event in the world. He’s a very strong guy, good, but I trust in myself a lot and I try for the knockout in all of my fights. Regardless of him being a striker or not, I’m going for the knockout.”

Of course, like any good champion, dos Santos has a backup plan to surprise the Dutchman.

“Jiu-jitsu can be Plan B. I’m an MMA fighter, training in everything,” dos Santos said. “I’m well prepared to fight, whether standing or on the ground, and if I find it necessary to take it to the ground, it will happen.”

Despite training alongside ground wizards the Nogueira brothers, grappling hasn’t been easy for dos Santos. After taking the belt from Velasquez in November, Cigano underwent knee surgery, which delayed his return to jiu-jitsu training. Now, however, all is well and the champ expect to be at full strength when he takes on Overeem at the end of May.

“The preparation has already begun. I’m training hard for the fight, feeling well. Now is the time to get strong, to then endure the hard training and get to 100 percent for the fight,” explained dos Santos.

Recently, dos Santos received some praise from an unlikely source. Middleweight contender Chael Sonnen, known for his controversial comments about Brazilians, named the heavyweight as a Brazilian who he admires in MMA.

“I was surprised, because he speaks ill of Brazilians and now names me as a favorite,” said dos Santos. “For me, it’s strategy, and if it’s working, I think he really has to do it. His focus is Anderson [Silva], but if I serve as inspiration or anything else, if I help him with anything, good for him and thanks for appreciating my work.”

Dos Santos’ teammate, heavyweight Antonio Silva, recently signed with the UFC and will also compete at UFC 146 against Roy Nelson. For now, the defending champ expects “Bigfoot” to be a sort of “guardian of the title shot,” even while acknowledging that the training partners’ paths may cross in the future.

“We will adapt to how things will be, but the important thing is to support each other.”

Leonardo Fabri contributed to this report.

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

Joanna Jedrzejczyk has a game plan, vows to 'stay the champion' at the expense of Jessica Penne in Germany

  • 21 days ago
  • 7 views

After winning the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Strawweight title at UFC 185 in March, Polish powerhouse Joanna Jedrzejczyk aims to make her first successful title defense against No. 1 conten read news >>

Erick Silva details game plan against Rick Story, vows to 'end the fight as soon as possible'

  • 22 days ago
  • 9 views

Erick Silva talks about his upcoming bout against Rick Story, his gameplan and how the change in locations affected his training. Erick Silva wants to get noticed in the welterweight division once ag read news >>

8 Must-See MMA Fights in June

  • 22 days ago
  • 14 views

June features six major MMA cards, and we have already seen one of those pass. If UFC Fight Night 68 is any indication, we may be in for a wild ride this month. Ten of the 12 bouts from UFC Fight Nig read news >>

Conor McGregor's UFC 189 World Tour antics were part of carefully crafted plan

  • 23 days ago
  • 203 views

LAS VEGAS -- If you thought Conor McGregor's UFC 189 World Tour histrionics were just for show, think again. Not only was McGregor doing a damn good job selling his main event against UFC featherweig read news >>

UFC Fight Night 68: Boetsch vs. Henderson Full Live Results

  • 24 days ago
  • 30 views

Full live results from UFC Fight Night 68: Boetsch vs. Henderson from New Orleans, Louisiana. The main event features Tim Boetsch vs. Dan Henderson. read news >>

UFC Fight Night 68: Dustin Poirier Talks End-of-Year Plan, Medeiros, McGregor

  • 25 days ago
  • 14 views

Dustin "The Diamond" Poirier wanted a fight in his home state of Louisiana, but he knew he'd have to earn it. Heading into his UFC Fight Night 63 bout in April against Carlos Diego Ferreira, Poirier read news >>

RFA 26 is Next Step in the Clinton Williams Breakout Plan

  • 26 days ago
  • 1 views

Clinton Williams believes 2015 is his year to break out, and Friday's RFA 26 is his next step into the limelight. read news >>

ONE Dynasty of Champions Features Timofey Nastyukhin vs. Yusuke Kawanago

  • 26 days ago
  • 9 views

Featherweights Timofey Nastyukhin and Yusuke Kawanago top the ONE: Dynasty of Champions, the promotion's second event in mainland China. read news >>

Mark Drummond: ‘Everyone Has a Game Plan… Until They Get Hit in the Face’

  • 28 days ago
  • 2 views

Facing TUF vet Michael Hill at Friday's WSOF 21, Mark Drummond believes he's got the plan to win, but that all goes out the window when you get punched in the face. read news >>

UFC returns to theaters with Fathom Events for UFC 188 in Mexico City

  • 28 days ago
  • 6 views

The UFC will return to movie theaters this month for UFC 188, which features a heavyweight title unification bout between Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum in the main event. Filed under: News, UFC, read news >>