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Junior Dos Santos and the Five Most Impressive UFC Contender Runs in Recent History

By Jonathan Shrager

Unless you’ve been locked in a closet for the last week with no internet reception, you’re probably aware that the UFC’s inaugural event on network television transpires this weekend, headlined by a gargantuan heavyweight showdown between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos.

A convincing argument could be made for JDS boasting the single most remarkable contender streak in UFC history. If you’ve failed to be impressed by Junior’s seven consecutive triumphs since entering the UFC back in October 2008 — and the level of competition they came against — then you’re evidently not a very excitable person. In fact, it’s likely that you possess the same stoicism characterised by “Cigano’s” adversary this weekend, Señor Velasquez.

You see, unbeaten runs aren’t common in the UFC. This isn’t the world of boxing, where fighters are fed 20 journeymen before they get thrown to the lions. And that’s precisely why the MMA community purrs over such immaculate resumes. So which UFC fighters built up the most impressive win streaks en route to their first title shot? These five come to mind…

1. Junior Dos Santos

Since he burst onto the global MMA scene with an emphatic knockout of Fabricio Werdum at UFC 90 in October 2008, Junior “Two Saints” has blitzed his way through the heavyweight division with consummate ease. Four of his seven UFC scraps have concluded via first-round T/KO, with Fabricio Werdum, Stefan Struve, Gilbert Yvel and Gabriel Gonzaga feeling the full force of Cigano’s fury.

He also made Mirko Cro Cop cry uncle, and most recently dominated Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin, who both withstood an inhumane amount of punishment in their one-sided decision losses. Lesser men (i.e. you or I) would have succumbed to Junior’s pre-fight gaze, never mind his onslaught of significant strikes. What renders Dos Santos’s UFC tenure so incredible is the fact that he seemingly hasn’t been troubled in the slightest. He has dominated a “who’s who” catalogue of the division’s most dangerous challengers and decorated veterans without losing a single round.

 

2. Cain Velasquez

Cain’s contender run leading up to his UFC 121 title match against Brock Lesnar last year was also extraordinary, perhaps only marginally less so than Junior’s, owing to the calibre of victims on his professional MMA resume. Six straight victories in the UFC is no joke, even if you’re defeating fighters that are languishing in the lower echelons of the division. Velasquez clinched his title shot with a first-round steamrolling of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 110. Before that, he scored notable wins over Ben Rothwell and Cheick Kongo. But unlike Junior, Cain has at least been hurt momentarily in the UFC, getting dropped twice by Kongo at UFC 99, the sole evening on which Velasquez has been made to compete for three full rounds.

3. Jon Fitch

Jon Fitch is simultaneously the most overrated and underrated fighter in the UFC. While that’s clearly an oxymoron, you understand my sentiment. He employs a “style” of fighting that gets fans cheering — for referee standups.

But whether you love the Vegan mean-mugger or not, the one thing you absolutely cannot refute is his unerring capacity to grind out results, as attested to by his phenomenal Octagon record both before and after his UFC 87 title shot against Georges St. Pierre in August 2008. Quite simply put, unless your initials are GSP, you ain’t emerging from the Octagon victorious against Monsieur Fitch.

After joining the UFC in late 2005, Fitch amassed a staggering eight-straight wins (including the scalps of Thiago Alves and Diego Sanchez) within a two-and-a-half year period, earning a shot at GSP’s coveted title, but as anticipated, Fitch suffered a humbling one-sided loss to “Rush.” Had Fitch prevailed, he would have surpassed Royce Gracie‘s streak of eight straight wins (a record that has since been broken by Anderson Silva, currently on fourteen as of November 2011).

But a true champion is one who can rebound from a defeat. And rebound is exactly what Fitch has done, subsequently embarking on a six-fight unbeaten streak which has captured the attention (if not the imagination) of most except the most important man in the business, Uncle Dana. The problem with Fitch 2.0 is that he appears even fonder of the decision victory. Prior to the GSP affair, he actually finished 50% of his fights. Following the GSP loss, this percentage has plummeted to 0%.

On the next page: Our picks in the lightweight and light-heavyweight divisions…

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KeithHackneyWindmillPalmStrike- November 15, 2011 at 5:23 am
How is Keith Hackney's epic run to Royce Gracie through Emmanual Yarborough and Joe Son not mentioned? This is bullshit
yuntian- November 13, 2011 at 8:57 pm
speculation that Coach Outlet France could soon senior credit strategist at Bank investors are increasingly concerned
Iskander Neptu- November 12, 2011 at 9:59 am
@ Daddy_jeffy -- I believe you mean "douche nozzle", by the by ...
Irishwolfhound491- November 12, 2011 at 5:44 am
Steelcityslicker Yeah he crushed gatekeepers but he embarrassed fighters who've had 3 or 4 times more experience.
SnackDaddy- November 12, 2011 at 3:03 am
You forgot to mention Nick Diaz. That level of smack-talk and erratic behavior deserves credit,yo.
Daddy_jeffy- November 12, 2011 at 2:37 am
By the by, "Iskander Neptu" is from the Germanic meaning a whale's vagina. It is an old Germanic coloquialism for a dochenozzle that feels it necessary to point out everyone else's errors on the wide world of web.
RwilsonR- November 11, 2011 at 9:42 pm
Even though it includes a loss to the champ in his first time out, I think GSP's rise to the title had him run through arguably the most impressive group of opponents anybody has ever gone through. But I get the point of the list, and losing his first title shot doesn't put him on here.
myklhoey- November 11, 2011 at 9:13 pm
mruss
whats wit allowin all this junk in your comment sections these adds there every were
ghostboner- November 11, 2011 at 5:58 pm
Jon Fitch is not a vegan.
Steelcityslicker- November 11, 2011 at 5:13 pm
I was on board until Jones. While he is the champ, his "rise to the top" has not been all that notable. For instance, his victories that you outlined (Vera, Vladimer and Stephan Bonnar) are nothing more than victories over "gatekeepers" in the division. He is the undisptued champ no doubt, but he didnt have to take the hard road to get there. Kind of reminds me of.......boxing.
Iskander Neptu- November 11, 2011 at 5:08 pm
By the by, "Dos Santos" in portuguese means "of the saints" as in "Junior belongs to the saints". It does not mean two Saints. Its not spanish. Also, Brazilians understand zero Spanish. Apples and Oranges.
myklhoey- November 11, 2011 at 2:39 pm
what the heck, shane carwin should have been in this, 0-2 maybe but lets not for get he was undefeated when he faced lesner and finished everyone in the 1st round
but i would have to agree with jds he faced i think the tuffa fighta's and wooped him as well
notable menton mark colmam first run at 12, mirs first run at 48, franklins first run at 53, dude only had one loss to machida,
Baerel- November 11, 2011 at 2:11 pm
Carwin had a decent run upto his fight with Lesnar. Although most his wins came from crushing cans.
DangadaDang- November 11, 2011 at 1:58 pm
Really dug this. Nice job, Jon.
frndlylion- November 11, 2011 at 1:29 pm
Was a good article up to the "next page >"

I will read a single page 3 miles long but I will not click 3-5 times to continue reading the same article.
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