4 Improvements Junior dos Santos Must Make in His Next Fight
UFC 155's rematch against Cain Velasquez was by no means a pretty fight for the now former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos.
Unlike their first bout, Velasquez was able to avoid the Brazilian's heavy hands and exposed some of "Cigano's" weaknesses as the match dragged into the later rounds. Despite showing a lot of heart while weathering the 25 minute onslaught, it's clear that dos Santos will have to work on his game if he wants another crack at the title.
Here are four improvements "Cigano" must make going into his next fight.
Setting the Tone
Dos Santos failed to set the tone and pace of the fight, an important factor when facing a grinder like Velasquez.
In their first fight, the Brazilian did a great job at controlling the cage and getting Velasquez to react to him but failed to do this on Saturday night.
Dos Santos is a great counter striker, which would usually be a good strategy against an aggressive attack like the one Velasquez put on. However, by not setting the pace, "Cigano" never really got into a rhythm.
Next time out, dos Santos definitely needs to set the tone and be a bit more aggressive.
Varying His Attack
Another improvement dos Santos needs to make to his game is varying his attack better.
We all know that he has great boxing and changes levels with his punches really well, but as far as striking goes, that's pretty much all we've seen from the Brazilian.
"Cigano" needs to add in more kicks, specifically to the legs, as well as better combinations between striking and takedowns if he wants to take his offense to the next level.
Not Being Afraid of the Ground
Despite being taken down virtually at will by Velasquez, dos Santos' sloppy takedown defense on Saturday night is more indicative of exhaustion than actual skill.
"Cigano's" still one of the toughest guys in MMA to take down and has an underrated ground game highlighted by his BJJ black belt, but I feel like he's afraid to work on the mats when he's in the Octagon.
Dos Santos should look to be more offensive on the ground and go for more take downs. While I'm not saying that he has the wrestling to match a Velasquez on the mats, if he can get his opponents thinking about the takedown, it will make it easier for him to set up his power strikes.
If you look at the pantheon of UFC champs, they all have their respective strengths and weaknesses, but the one factor they all share is that unpredictability with their attacks.
We pretty much know what's in each champion's arsenal, but the way they mix things up is how they've earned and retained their titles. Dos Santos' problem is that he's become too predictable with his attack, which is what Velasquez exploited on Saturday night.
When your whole strategy is to defend the takedown and box, no matter how skilled you are in those areas, there is a way to beat it. If dos Santos wants to the champ again, he will have to become more creative and unpredictable with his attack inside the Octagon.