Junior dos Santos makes his return to the UFC's Octagon for the first time since being beat down by Cain Velasquez in their heavyweight title tilt in December. He will battle Mark Hunt in the evening's co-main event.
This bout features two of the best strikers in the division and two of the hardest hitters. Dos Santos is a powerful boxer, and Hunt is a former K-1 champion. Fans are expecting fireworks.
However, three questions immediately come to mind when talking about this fight.
How did UFC 155 effect JDS' confidence?
Dos Santos is one of the most confident people you will ever meet. He is a jovial character who believes in his abilities. That confidence played a big role in him capturing the UFC heavyweight championship.
At UFC 155, Velasquez broke his will. Velasquez dominated the fight in every facet.
JDS got touched up on the feet, repeatedly dragged to the canvas and pummeled in every which way. He was a defeated man after that fight. Velasquez broke him.
Sometimes after a fight like that fighters never return to the cage the same way. They lose their confidence. They lose that mental edge they used to have. Has that happened to JDS? We will find out at UFC 160 on Saturday.
A good bet is to say that he will have trained harder than ever, but we won't truly know until we see him in action.
Will he stand and trade with Hunt?
This is what fans most want to see. They want these two elite strikers to stand toe-to-toe until someone drops.
That is typically what both of these men want to do, but I'm not sure we should expect that in this fight.
JDS needs a win. The smartest course of action against Hunt is to grapple with him. That is clearly not his strong suit, and it is the path of least resistance. However, when a fighter loves to strike they may decide to do that regardless of the individual matchup.
He may, in fact, have the skills to throw with Hunt. JDS' boxing skills are second to none in MMA, but Hunt has an incredible chin and can wade through punches to deliver his own. Does JDS really want to risk allowing Hunt inside of his reach?
We haven't seen dos Santos utilize his wrestling much, but we have seen it sparingly. At UFC 160 we will most likely find out very quickly if we'll see it again in this fight.
How good are his submission skills?
This question may still have to be asked after the fight. Hunt isn't exactly known for his submission defense.
Anyway, if JDS does take this fight to the mat we will finally get a glimpse in to his ground game.
It has been much talked about since his UFC debut. We know he idolizes Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. We have seen the love he has for his hero, but at UFC 160 we may see a tiny bit of what he has learned over the years.
There is no question that he can submit Hunt. Any heavyweight that has a mediocre ground game can do that. It is simply not Hunt's specialty. We have seen him tap to rudimentary submissions.
If JDS takes him down it will be interesting to see how quickly he sets up and completes a submission. He may chose to ground-and-pound, but if the fight hits the canvas I have a feeling most fans want to see where his submission acumen lies.
Those three questions pop up for JDS entering this fight. We are just a few days out from getting the answers.