By Elias Cepeda
Junior dos Santos is a walking, terrifying public relations smashing machine. Not only did he Babe Ruth it and fulfill his prediction of winning by 2nd round stoppage over former two-time champion Frank Mir Saturday night, but he also provided the best feel-good photo op of the year so far.
Junior trains out of Luis Carlos Dorea’s Champion Boxing gym in Brazil which, in addition to being headquarters for world-class fighters, is home to a vibrant youth boxing program. After training one day, the UFC Primetime cameras caught one of the little tikes hanging asking Junior to take him with him to the states for his title fight.
At the time, Junior said, “we’ll see.” But he ended up bringing the 9 year-old kid and his family to Vegas to watch him win. After beating Mir, he lifted the lucky young fighter onto his shoulders and posed for the cameras along with his coaches.
Dos Santos definitely appears to have the Wanderlei Silva nice guy/maniac fighter balance down pat. Try as I might, that image warms my cynical heart, and I don’t give a damn how orchestrated it may or may not have been. Who doesn’t like watching a kid’s dream come true before their eyes?
Mir’s dream of becoming the second ever three-time UFC heavyweight champion came crashing down on him, however, when he could not drag dos Santos down to the mat. Mir eat huge hellacious shots to the dome in the latter part of the first and into the second, until the final hammer fist prompted the ref to step in and stop the action.
It has been easy for this writer to continually underestimate dos Santos in some of his biggest bouts on account of his “only” having his hands. What are the chances, I’ve often found myself thinking, that he can go a whole fight without getting put on his back? Well, so far, those chances are much less likely than the chances that his opponents can go an entire fight without being hit by him.
When dos Santos touches an opponent, they drop. That’s the way it goes, we’ve come to learn.
Who’s next for him? How about a rematch with the man he beat to win the title, Cain Velasquez?
Cain got back on the winning track by dominating and brutalizing Antonio Silva, stopping him in the first round with ground strikes. Cain made Silva bleed his own blood, a lot of it, with elbows and punches, and by the end of the brief bout he looked like he was trying out for a horror flick.
He was trying out for a title shot, and I think he earned it. The only guy I’d rather see get it next, his AKA teammate Daniel Cormier, will be out for a long time with a broken hand.
Yeah, Velasquez vs. dos Santos would be a rematch but so what? Elite fighters often hang around the top of divisions together and, if we’re lucky, we get to see the best of the best go at it over and again.
Cain lost quickly to dos Santos last fall, but before that he was unbeaten and devastated the, at the time, invincible-looking champion Brock Lesnar. Modern-day Antonio Silva only loses to the best guys out there, like Fabricio Werdum, Velasquez and Cormier, and recently dominated Fedor Emelianenko. Taking him out so impressively counts for a lot, and with the timing working out, it is time for dos Santos vs. Velasquez II.
Roy Nelson found the mark with his over hand right early and knocked Dave Herman silly. He went in to add to the punishment on the ground but thankfully the ref got in there fast and stopped it. Only way Nelson could have added to the damage would have been to eat Herman, and we all know he’s watching his boyish figure these days.
Dan Hardy showed why he was still employed after four-straight losses in beating solid veteran Duane Ludwig via first round TKO. Hardy always come in shape, always gives an entertaining fight and has only lost to the best in the welterweight division. It has to feel good for the “Outlaw” to finally get back in the win-column. Now he can go get high as a kite. Hardy joined Nelson as a “knockout of the night,” bonus check recipient.
To pull guard in MMA you have to either be suicidal or a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu boss. Paul Sass and Stefan Struve were the latter in securing submission wins off of their back at UFC 146. They shared “submission of the night,” honors. All bonus winners earned extra $70,000 checks. No “fight of the night” bonuses were given.
Jamie Varner showed why he is a former world champion by beating formerly unbeaten wrecking-ball Edson Barboza via TKO after taking the fight on short notice. Way to make a re-entry to the big leagues, Jamie. Perhaps the biggest underdog of the night, scored the huge upset.
Jason “Mayhem” Miller pleaded with the UFC to give him another fight in the organization after losing badly to Michael Bisping and he got one, against C.B. Dollaway. Miller fought well and lost a close decision to Dollaway. But still, looks like, he gone. Reports are that he pulled a stunt backstage after the fight that sealed his fate. Maybe he ran into Team Cesar Gracie.
One final note, Glover Teixeira looked great in his long-awaited UFC debut. He submitted Kyle Kingsbury with an arm-triangle choke in the first round. Is it too soon to want to see Glover against some of the best in the 205lb division?