Junior dos Santos feels he still has something to prove against Cain Velasquez (Yahoo! Sports)


  • Share on Tumblr
  • submit to reddit

LAS VEGAS – The sheer force of Junior dos Santos' right hand pounding into the focus mitt held his coach – and the resulting booming sound it made – sent precisely the message the UFC wanted prior to his bout with Cain Velasquez on Nov. 12, 2011, at UFC on Fox 1.

To anyone who saw or heard those thudding pops, there was no doubt about what dos Santos was capable of doing: He was perhaps mixed martial arts' best knockout artist and that little sequence at an open workout in Anaheim, Calif., served as a reminder of how serious a threat to Velasquez's heavyweight belt he could be.

What wasn't so well known was that dos Santos did little more than throw punches at the workout simply because he wasn't physically able to do anything else.

Much has been made of the knee injury that Velasquez suffered before he made his title defense against dos Santos on national television, as if dos Santos' victory should simply be tossed aside.

A reporter asked Velasquez at Thursday's final news conference for UFC 155 about regaining the title. When he used the phrase "your belt," dos Santos sneered before interrupting.

"It's my belt," he said, firmly.

[Also: Dana White's refreshingly honest take on drug use in UFC]

What's been lost in the talk of the Velasquez injury is that dos Santos fought – and won – with a serious knee injury of his own. Two weeks before the bout, he was on crutches. And two days before, he wasn't comfortable going through the light media-designed workout the UFC had scheduled for him.

He was in pain and didn't want to injure his knee any further. He wasn't about to drop to the floor and risk putting his knee at additional risk.

"It was pretty bad," dos Santos said of his own injury.

To dos Santos and those closest to him, his 64-second knockout victory over Velasquez proved he's the best heavyweight in the world. But to many, the lingering message of UFC on Fox 1 was simply that an injured dos Santos was better than an injured Velasquez.

So, dos Santos heads into the main event of UFC 155 Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden to defend the championship for a second time feeling like he has a lot to prove. His history would suggest that's not a good thing for his opponents.

UFC president Dana White came to the rescue of his champion Thursday when the talk about Velasquez's injury began to discredit dos Santos' victory. White could hardly believe when someone questioned whether the first fight should be thrown out when regarding what might happen Saturday in the rematch.

"You don't throw the first fight out," White said incredulously. "I mean, [dos Santos] won by knockout. It would be pretty weird to throw that first fight out. But there's no doubt you're going to see a different Cain Velasquez this fight."

That's what makes the fight so compelling. Many were let down by the quick ending to the first fight. The bout was the main event of the UFC's first foray onto network television and there was a 40-minute buildup for a fight that barely lasted 40 seconds.

Many of the most ardent MMA fans were crushed. They'd been hoping for an epic back-and-forth match that would convince them of their sport's greatness.

[Also: Cain Velasquez seeking redemption]

What they failed to realize, though, is that the reason casual fans love to watch heavyweights is because the big men bring the big knockouts.

Dos Santos delivered a powerful knockout, yet somehow hasn't been embraced as a result.

He's the antithesis of a trash talker, a nice, soft-spoken guy who learned to speak English by listening to Katy Perry songs and watching American television.

He's added bulk to his physique, but insists he's retained his quickness. That would allow him to better defend against Velasquez's take-down attempts while allowing him to still throw with frightening power.

Velasquez may take him down, dos Santos conceded, and may even take him down repeatedly. But dos Santos knows the one thing that every knockout puncher knows: He won't have to land more than one shot in order to win.

[Related: UFC 155 picks | Five questions that will be answered]

That's the intrigue in this fight: Velasquez may be better than he was in their first meeting. He may even be far better than he was in November 2011.

He might dominate the majority of the fight Saturday. But one right hand is all that dos Santos needs.

Dos Santos knows it. White knows it. And most of all, Velasquez knows it.

In a combat sport, that one-punch power is always the biggest difference maker. Dos Santos recently earned his jiu-jitsu black belt and refers to himself not as a striker but as "a total mixed martial artist."

But it's his knockout power that has the potential to not only end the night early a second time but to finally – finally – give dos Santos the credit he deserves.

Related MMA video from Yahoo! Sports

Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
The story behind Adrian Peterson's success
Avery Johnson got fired, but Deron Williams is sinking the Nets
Duke's 51-year bowl drought continues in stunning fashion
Y! Movies: Spike Lee boycotting Quentin Tarantino's 'Django Unchained'

view original article >>

Related News

  • 28 days ago
  • 51 views

MMAmania.com spoke to "The Warmaster" over the weekend at GLORY in Inglewood. Barnett explained the call out of Junior dos Santos that was making the rounds last week, talked about his Metamoris 4 match up against Dean Lister and gave his thoughts on GLORY. According to Josh Barnett, the story about him wanting to fight Junior dos Santos that was circulating last week (read it here) came entirely from his manager Leland Lebarre, and not from him. It's not that he wouldn't be down to fight the fo more

  • 28 days ago
  • 41 views

Every UFC fighter steps into the Octagon with the hope of elevating themselves to a UFC title shot. But what happens when there's a major roadblock in the way? That's the situation in which guys like Junior dos Santos and Urijah Faber find themselves. The end result of fighting is always to push up the rankings, but for these guys, there's only so far they can go. The fighters on this list find themselves in a bit of limbo in that they can defeat nearly every contender thrown their way, but UFC more

  • 7 days ago
  • 1060 views

Will the fifteenth time be the charm? Alistair Overeem will make his long-awaited return to the Octagon when he faces Ben Rothwell at UFC Fight Night 50, which is scheduled for Foxwoods Resort & Casino in Ledyard, Conn., on Sept. 5, 2014. Overeem -- who is now 100-percent healthy -- recently returned to the win column at UFC 169 with a decision win over Frank Mir after suffering back-to-back losses to Antonio Silva and Travis Browne in 2013. He'll look to make it two straight wins when he faces more

  • 11 days ago
  • 41 views

Brazil’s Tiago dos Santos is set to meet Akbarh Arreola, from Mexico, at UFC on FOX 12, which finalizes the card with 12 fights later this month in San Jose.Filed under: News, UFC more

  • 6 days ago
  • 58 views

Former Strikeforce and K-1 champion Alistair Overeem still wants a piece of former UFC heavyweight titleholder Junior dos Santos, even though his next opponent is already booked. The Reem briefly mentioned his desire to square off with the Brazilian power puncher when he appeared on Ariel Helwani's The MMA Hour, per Luke Thomas of MMA Fighting. "I'm focused and I want to really fight," Overeem said. "I'm very optimistic [a bout with dos Santos] is going to come and I want it to come. I could see more

  • 28 days ago
  • 47 views

UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey would probably appreciate some help selling her fights, but she isn't looking for bulletin board material. Booked against another demure opponent happy to avoid the spotlight, Rousey just needs Alexis Davis to show up for their title bout at UFC 175 on Jul. 5. Fiery rival or meek missing person, it doesn't matter. "It doesn't change anything for me because I'm not an emotional fighter," Rousey told FOX Sports. "I have zero emotion when I go in there more

  • 18 days ago
  • 121 views

Thiago Santos says his fight with Uriah Hall will probably end in a knockout on Saturday at UFC 175.Filed under: News, UFC more

  • 18 days ago
  • 53 views

Uriah Hall takes on fellow Middleweight Thiago Santos for a bout to decide if Hall won't become the next Phillipe Nover at UFC 175 in Vegas. Uriah Hall vs. Thiago Santos Middleweight So is Uriah Hall the next Phillipe Nover and we just don't know it yet? Possibly. I hate to play into the following narrative but I'll do it anyway. As everyone and their pinko commie friends knows, there is a racial component to how observers look at black athletes. Racial stereotypes are perpetuated by the assumpt more

  • 19 days ago
  • 20 views

From Yahoo Sports: Machida isn't concerned about being 36 as he prepares for his middleweight title fight with Chris Weidman at UFC 175. more