As Junior dos Santos looks to the future, he no doubt realizes the challenge ahead of him, personified in Cain Velasquez: a bulldog of a fighter with excellent grappling skills, seemingly limitless cardio and heavy hands.
Granted, the champ KO’d Velasquez early in their last bout, and while a decisive finish is always good, it is rarely the grounds for making a sound game plan for a rematch, save for the plan of landing heavy and landing early.
The second go-round, things are likely to be much tougher for both men.
Still, you have to hope that dos Santos is really taking things seriously. It’s not just that he’s fighting a monster in Velasquez, but it’s also that he’s been talking in the press about how much he’d like to fight one of the Klitschko brothers in a boxing contest, confident he would knock them out.
Hopefully, that’s just the talk of a focused champion who is confident in his skills, instead of the talk of a champion who is indulging in hubris, taking too many things for granted.
Because let’s be honest, when talking about the UFC heavyweight title, there have been a lot of great champions to hold that belt, and none of them—not a single one—have been able to defend the belt more than twice before having it ripped from around their waist.
Still, at first glance, dos Santos looks like he can succeed where so many others have failed. But then when we consider his predecessors, we see that he is not the first one to look “unbeatable” in the division, only to have it all taken away.
So let’s take a closer look at Junior dos Santos and the other UFC heavyweight champions that have come before him and see how he stacks up as he tries to march forward to become the greatest in the divisions history.