Dos Santos vs Hunt: Breaking Down Pivotal Moments from UFC 160's Co-Main Event
Rarely in combat sports do you see a heavyweight land a spinning back heel kick, but if you didn't know by now, Junior Dos Santos isn't any ordinary heavyweight.
After losing the UFC title to Cain Velasquez in December 2012, Dos Santos stormed back into the title picture on Saturday night at UFC 160 with a brilliant third round knockout win over 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix champ Mark Hunt.
"I trained that [kick] a lot in my gym," Dos Santos said at the post-fight press conference.
"I train kicks all the time in my gym. I train everything— wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai. I never felt confident to do that during the fight because normally my hands work. Tonight I saw the moment to the throw the kick, and I did and it bring me the victory."
How did Dos Santos setup the spinning back heel kick that finished the fight? Let's break down the pivotal moments from the bout.
In the first round, Dos Santos seemed hell-bent on landing the same overhand right that put Velasquez to sleep at UFC on FOX 1. He would often try to disguise his power shot by working weak jabs to Hunt's body and following with the overhand.
Hunt was able to find some success early in the standup, particularly when he utilized leg kicks. After Dos Santos dropped him midway in the round with an overhand right, Hunt got away from his kicks and became one-dimensional, which made him more predictable.
At the start of the second round, Dos Santos gave an early foreboding to the ending of the fight by lowering his base and faking a spinning back kick to test Hunt's reaction. Instead of protecting his head, Hunt's immediate reaction was to protect his body after Dos Santos made it one of his primary targets in the first round.
Dos Santos never went high with the kick in the second round, but he knew the opportunity was in his back pocket.
By this time, Hunt was taking deep gulps of air and beginning to slow down. His hands began to drop at his sides, which allowed Dos Santos an opportunity to work his jab and follow up with three-punch combinations.
With his hands down, Hunt had more distance to cover when he threw punches. This made it easier for Dos Santos to see everything coming and quickly move out of the way.
A deciding factor in the bout was Dos Santos' ability to use angles and keep things technical on the feet. He kept the fight on his terms and in the center of the Octagon. He even threw in a takedown near the end of the round to really mix up his attack and keep Hunt guessing.
In the final frame, it was more of Dos Santos working the jab and strikes to the body. The highlight reel moment came when he feinted a jab and followed up with a spinning back heel kick.
As he did all fight, Hunt went to protect his body and left his head completely vulnerable to the attack. The kick barely clipped the top of Hunt's head, but the power behind the strike was more than enough to put him on his back. Dos Santos followed up with a couple of extra ground strikes before referee Steve Mazzagatti jumped in and stopped the fight.
Hunt is often credited for having one of the best chins in MMA. While this may be true, no fighter is immune to being knocked out, especially when you're competing against a powerful guy like Dos Santos.
It remains to be seen if the same fate awaits Velasquez in the much-anticipated rubber match likely slated for later this year.
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