Just five months ago, dos Santos had the gold wrapped around his waist, but he had it taken from him by current titleholder Cain Velasquez at UFC 155 to close out 2012.
Just one fight later, dos Santos returned to the top of the contender's list by beating the former K-1 champion. He now awaits the main event to determine whom he will face for the title later this year.
Dos Santos dared to stand with Hunt for most of the fight. He even landed a thunderous overhand right in the first round that dropped the New Zealand native, who has a head made of concrete, according to some.
The shot dropped Hunt to the mat, but like a zombie coming back to life, he rose again to stand toe-to-toe with dos Santos.
Dos Santos mixed up his attacks with a takedown in the second round and then kept Hunt guessing in the third with quick in-and-out movement while peppering Hunt with uppercuts.
Hunt slowed down as the round wore on, but dos Santos did not and it paid off in a big way with just a minute left in the fight.
Dos Santos uncorked a spinning wheel kick that connected to the side of Hunt's head, sending him crashing to the canvas like a redwood falling in the forest. The Brazilian followed up with two more punches to secure the knockout victory.
Dos Santos becomes only the third fighter in history to knock out Hunt during his storied fighting career in mixed martial arts and kickboxing. Semmy Schilt and Melvin Manhoef did it in 2008.
Now dos Santos will get the next shot at the UFC heavyweight title after an impressive finish at UFC 160.
"That's what I most want, I want that so bad," dos Santos stated after the win. "I really believe I can be the champion again and I'll do my best to get that."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report, and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.