Junior dos Santos has a one-way ticket to fight Cain Velasquez for the UFC heavyweight championship.
Dos Santos dominated and outclassed Shane Carwin on Saturday at UFC 131, battering Carwin from pillar to post, but Carwin hung in there and dos Santos won a clear unanimous decision.
"Much respect to Cain Velasquez, but Cain, I'm coming for you," a jubilant dos Santos told Joe Rogan after the bout.
The two didn't engage for the first 45 seconds of the fight until Carwin went for a single which dos Santos defended. Dos Santos paitently working a jab, using it much like Donald Cerrone used the leg kicks in the opening bout. The jab completely stifled Carwin's offense and dos Santos started landing at will and hurt Carwin with a right and then a left. Dos Santos went to town on the side of Carwin's head with punch after punch but referee Herb Dean did not stop the fight, even as dos Santos looked at him to do so. Dos Santos backed off and the round ended with Carwin's face a bloody mess and his left eye swelling.
After much of the round was spent striking at distance, Carwin just stalked dos Santos down and landed the best shot of the round with a huge left as he had dos Santos stumbling against the fence. Dos Santos landed a huge head kick with just under a minute to go that Carwin just took. Dos Santos works the body as the round ends and takes another round.
Carwin got dos Santos to the mat early on in the round but dos Santos would stand up without sustaining any damage. Dos Santos wobbled Carwin with a left hook just past the midway point of the round, but Carwin recovered quickly. Dos Santos starting to tee off at will on Carwin. Dean stopped the fight to have the doctor come in and check on him. Everything checked out OK and they continued with one minute to go. With 50 seconds left, dos Santos got a double leg but Carwin was up in 10 seconds. Dos Santos capped off the fight with another takedown and Carwin's face is a disaster.
The judges scored the bout 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26.
Dos Santos (13-1), fresh off a stint coaching on The Ultimate Fighter 13, returned to the cage for the first time since August when he knocked off Roy Nelson at UFC 117. That was the first time dos Santos had gone to a decision.
Carwin (12-2) hadn't fought since July when he dropped a second-round submission to Brock Lesnar in their UFC heavyweight title fight. That was his first loss in the UFC. Prior to that, he reeled off 12 straight first-round wins.