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Junior dos Santos: Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

In case you tuned in late on Saturday night and only saw Dana White criticizing the game plan of Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos defeated Velasquez in a few ticks north of a minute to capture the UFC heavyweight title.

The victory was Dos Santos’ eighth win in the octagon, with six coming by stoppage due to strikes.

JDS is a knockout artist and now the best heavyweight in the world. It’s a shame that the UFC president didn’t hype him up as such after his 64-second knockout in front of the largest UFC audience ever.

The Brazilian champion is like the MMA version of Mike Tyson, except that he hasn’t faltered against top competition. See, while Tyson knocked out cans but lost to good fighters like Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis, “Cigano” has had nothing but tough fights in the UFC and has passed with flying colors.

Fabricio Werdum was one win away from a heavyweight title shot. JDS was a +500 underdog. JDS knocked him out cold with an uppercut. Stefan Struve is the tallest fighter in the UFC and has competed in professional kickboxing. JDS swarmed on him and stopped him with strikes in under a minute. Mirko Filipovic is a MMA legend and one of the most feared strikers in MMA history. JDS beat him up for twelve minutes before “Cro Cop” decided that he wanted no more. Gilbert Yvel, while not a great fighter, is a dangerous striker with a ton of power. JDS put him away with a beautiful left hook. Gabriel Gonzaga was a former title contender who had fought plenty of top guys. JDS starched him in under four minutes. Roy Nelson is a well-rounded veteran and one of the toughest guys in the sport. JDS beat him on him from start to finish. Shane Carwin is a powerful wrestler with crazy power. JDS turned his face into hamburger meat for three rounds. Velasquez was undefeated and considered the best heavyweight in the world. JDS knocked him clean out.

Point out the flaws of his competition all you want, but he beat the guys put in front of him and did so in impressive fashion every single time. He hasn’t lost a single round in eight UFC fights.

So far, the only knock against him is that his conditioning might be questionable just because he finishes guys so quickly and looked a bit tired from kicking so much ass for the duration of the bout. People question his ground game, but when he’s been put on his back, he’s immediately gotten to his feet.

The way people talk about JDS reminds me of the way people talked about Chuck Liddell when he was the top light heavyweight in the UFC. “You have to drag Chuck into deep waters and really test his conditioning.” That’s pretty tough to do when Chuck knocked you out in the first round and beat you up so bad that your conditioning was worse than his by the time the fight got into the championship rounds. “You have to get Chuck on his back and make him uncomfortable.” That’s pretty tough to do when every time you go for a takedown Chuck made you pay with strikes or immediately popped up to his feet if you got him down.

Right now the holes in Dos Santos’ game are hypothetical, because no one has proved they exist. And even if they do exist, if you’re unconscious before you get a chance to expose them, then what good does it do you to know them?

UFC did Dos Santos a huge disservice on Saturday night. First with Joe Rogan calling him a “throwback to the old UFC days” like JDS is some one-dimensional puncher who can’t do anything else and then Dana immediately talking about Velasquez’s mistakes instead of crediting JDS. In fact, Dana didn’t once credit his new heavyweight champion in the post-fight broadcast instead focusing only on what Cain did wrong and even questioning the cardio of JDS.

“Cigano” is without a doubt the best heavyweight on the planet. He’s beaten all challengers put in front of him, he’s fought injured, he’s fought tired, he’s fought when he didn’t need to, and he’s never lost a single round in the organization.

He’s the most feared striker in the heavyweight division with his technical ability, his timing, and his knockout power. Everyone who has stood with him has gotten beat up. Dos Santos deserves all the credit in the world for what he did on Saturday night. He fought The Terminator and he reprogrammed him. He fought Machete and he got the job done. Not even Steven Seagal could do that.