While the general perception is that the big man is the greatest competitor when it comes to combat sports, that’s not necessarily a fact. If you really take a gander at some of the lighter weight classes, particularly in mixed martial arts, the depth of talent appears drastically deeper. That said, the heavyweight division has always played host to the rare phenomenon.
Examining today’s MMA landscape, one big man in particular truly stands out: UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos. Junior’s still a young buck in a brutal game, and his future career trajectory remains a mystery. For the time being however, it’s safe to label the man the baddest SOB north of 205 pounds.
At 28 years old, JDS has 16 professional bouts on his ledger. He’s years distanced from his fighting prime, he’s lost just a single match (in his sixth professional fight, against Joaquim Ferreira, who he’d beaten roughly seven months prior), and he’s risen to and above every challenge deposited in his path.
With a UFC record of 9-0, the Brazilian has already disposed of worthy opposition. He made his promotional debut at UFC 90, a virtual unknown, where he knocked well-respected Pride veteran Fabricio Werdum unconscious in 81 seconds. Mirko Cro Cop, Gabriel Gonzaga and Shane Carwin were all recognized as genuine threats to the blossoming prospect. He battered all three in a rather one-sided fashion.
And then, the night arrived in which JDS would cement his place as the division’s finest competitor. November 12, 2011, JDS entered the octagon to challenge newly-minted champion Cain Velasquez. Pundits praised Velasquez to High Heaven, declaring the man the uncontested future of the division, but someone forgot to pass dos Santos that memo.
Sixty-four seconds into their highly anticipated tussle and Velasquez was sprawled on the canvas, semi-conscious, the massive JDS hammering away at his foe’s cranium, forcing referee intervention.
Cain’s days as the division’s kingpin met a quick and cruel end.
Since that match Junior dos Santos has defended his belt against Alistair Overeem fill-in, Frank Mir. Mir, ever the gutsy man, accepted a fairly short notice fight with the champ and paid dearly for it. “Cigano” battered the former champion for a round and a half, seemingly toying with the outclassed Mir. Dos Santos’ dominance looked amazing, plain and simple, and few hurdles remain in his path.
Dos Santos is scheduled to rematch Velasquez in roughly one week. Should he duplicate the first fight’s outcome, only one legitimate threat looms: the controversial Alistair Overeem, who seems to have a penchant for horse meat.