October 25, 2008 was the first time this 6'4" and 238-pound Brazilian graced our television screens as a part of the UFC.
Little was known about this man—all we knew was that he was a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under the Nogueira brothers and with four of his six victories coming by way of knockout or technical knockout, it was clear he had power in his hands.
However, what stood in front of him was the current consensus No. 2 ranked heavyweight fighter, Fabricio Werdum.
Werdum, at the time, held an 11-3-1 record and was coming off back-to-back TKO stoppages over top contenders Gabriel Gonzaga and Brandon Vera. Thus, Werdum was considered the heavy favourite and with this victory he could possibly be in line to fight for the UFC Heavyweight Championship.
When the opening bell sounded, the corner of Dos Santos had forgotten to remind him that he was supposed to lose—it took the Team Black House student merely 80 seconds to knock out the fellow Brazilian in devastating fashion and shock the world.
Fast forward a little under two years later and Junior Dos Santos is riding high in the UFC Heavyweight division and has added the names Mirko Filipovic, Gabriel Gonzaga, Stefan Struve, Gilbert Yvel, and most recently Roy Nelson to his resume and earned the right to be next in line for a UFC Heavyweight title shot.
But what is it that's so impressive about Junior Dos Santos? Five years ago the man had never put on a pair of gloves, in a sport that typically demands years of hard work and dedication to reach the pinnacle of their desired weight class.
The 13 fights of his short career have all been preparing him for what comes next, his chance to capture the UFC Heavyweight Championship and the right to call yourself the best heavyweight combatant on the planet.
Brock Lesnar is scheduled to defend his 10 pounds of gold against Cain Velasquez on October 23, 2010 at the Honda Center in Anahiem, California. After those two behemoths lock horns the winner will set their sights on Dos Santos for a 2011 encounter.
Now with this piece am I saying that I am picking Junior Dos Santos to defeat the UFC Heavyweight Champion whomever that may be come 2011? Quite frankly, No.
I believe that Junior Dos Santos is a rising star in this great sport of ours and he has all the time in the world to learn and better himself and really cement his status as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
The biggest problem with Dos Santos going up against Brock Lesnar for example, is the size advantage that goes in the favor of Lesnar who enters the octagon roughly around the 275 pound range.
The solution? I believe a move down in weight would put Dos Santos at a great advantage in that stacked division. The light heavyweight weight class would be ideal for Dos Santos since he is at a size disadvantage against the big boys in the heavyweight division.
Junior Dos Santos may be the best thing to come out of Brazil in quite some time and the reality is he is only 25 years old and can already hang with the best, imagine how good this kid will be given another five years to develop his craft.