Santos defended his UFC heavyweight championship for the first
time on Saturday night, knocking out former titlist Frank Mir in
the main event of UFC
Prior to his triumph at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas,
however, “Cigano” successfully foretold how the fight would end at
Friday’s weigh-ins. His title belt now resting securely around his
waist, Dos Santos says that the prophetic prediction was not made
out of simple gamesmanship. According to the champ, he truly
believed that he would hit the jackpot in round two.
“[The second-round knockout] was my strategy for the fight,” dos
Santos at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “I thought he
came to take me down, and in the first round, I was trying to keep
my distance and make him tired. In the second round, it was my plan
to walk a little more forward than in the first, and it worked. I
think when you believe so much in yourself, that things happen.
That’s why I’m so positive.”
Mir attempted to close the distance early in round one, latching
onto a single-leg before trying to pull the champion down into a
foot lock. The American’s efforts proved fruitless, as the champion
escaped and then began to work his jab, staggering Mir with a right
hook to close out the frame.
Things only got worse for Mir in the second stanza. Dos Santos
started to loosen up even further, rifling shots to Mir’s body and
head while avoiding most of Mir’s blows and keeping out of takedown
range. The finish came 3:04 into round two, when the Brazilian
snapped back Mir’s head with a hard right straight and landed a
hammering fist on the ground for good measure. Though he was
dominant from start to finish, dos Santos was complimentary of his
opponent’s resilience after the bout.
“This was a good fight for me,” said dos Santos. “[Mir] can really
take a punch. I’m feeling some pain on my hand now. It was a good
fight, but every fight that I have, I have more experience. I came
into this fight more confident to use my speed and my boxing skills
Upon earning the knockout, dos Santos was cheered enthusiastically
by a large contingent of Brazilian supporters, some of which dos
Santos says came to the event just to see him fight.
“It was fantastic for me to see all of the Brazilian flags. All the
Brazilian people in the crowd made me so proud and so energized,”
said dos Santos. “Every time I looked up, I could hear them and see
the flags. It was such a great, positive vibe, and I’m so glad to
be here representing everybody from Brazil. I thank them for their
Now with a successful title defense to his credit, dos Santos is
expected to next put his belt on the line against the man he
knocked out to capture the gold, Cain
Velasquez. While dos Santos declined to offer a prediction on
how that return fight might play out, he says he would approach the
bout as the most important of his career.
“I don’t care who is my next opponent. If I have to fight with
Velasquez again, I’m ready. Let’s do it,” said dos Santos.
“Velasquez is really tough. In my mind, he is different in this
division, because he is very fast and his stamina is really good.
For sure, he is dangerous and a good fighter.”