(Dos Santos makes short work of Stefan "Skyscraper" Struve at UFC 95 in February. Photo courtesy of DayLife.com.)
There are some MMA fans who will tell you that Junior Dos Santos is one of the ten best heavyweights in the world. Personally, I think he needs one more win over a credible opponent before he becomes Power Ranking-worthy, but I won’t deny that he’s got serious talent and potential. Which is why it’s strange that for his third fight in the Octagon, he’s being given someone near the very bottom of the UFC heavyweight totem pole. MMA Junkie reports that Dos Santos and Justin McCully have agreed to face each other at UFC 102 (August 29th; Portland, Oregon). So, quick MMA Math…
Junior Dos Santos wasted Fabricio Werdum, who pwned Gabriel Gonzaga, who made McCully his bitch = OMFG can this fight even get approval by the Oregon State Athletic Commission?
It’s unfortunate because it represents a steady backwards progression in the opponents that Dos Santos is getting. For his UFC debut, he was given Werdum — a top-ten heavyweight at the time — and knocked his head into the mezzanine. Then, he was matched up with Stefan Struve, who was a killer in European leagues but untested against high-level competition, and needed less than a minute to destroy him. And now Dos Santos is being offered a fight against a guy who nobody thinks is any good. Are they building him up towards a super-fight with Jason Guida?
Meanwhile, Cain Velasquez is on his own separate title track, Shane Carwin‘s next opponent is yet-unknown (though a title shot isn’t out of the realm of possibility), and none of these exciting up-and-comers will be facing each other until they absolutely have to. Sure, doing it that way gives the UFC heavyweight class the illusion of depth, but it doesn’t really establish a hierarchy in the division. I say, put together a four-man one-night "Contender’s Tournament" with Dos Santos, Velsasquez, Carwin, and the winner of Kongo/Hardonk at UFC 97, and the last man standing gets a shot at the belt. Yeah, I know that would never happen, but death/” target=”_blank”>it’s the two-year anniversary of PRIDE’s death today, so forgive me for getting all EPIC on your asses.