No no no no no this is not a jab at Struve ... although if it was he's probably cut above his left eye. But he is a focal point in this post. With Junior Dos Santos' starching of Frank Mir last night, the world #1 heavyweight has added to arguably one of the best resumes in the sport if not one of the greatest resumes for an entire UFC career. Here are his 9 UFC opponents and their Bloody Elbow/USA Today rankings at the time of their fight:
UFC 90 - vs. Fabricio Werdum (Rank at the time: #5; Current Rank: #5)
UFC 95 - vs. Stefan Struve (Rank at the time: NR; Current Rank: #19)
UFC 103 - vs. Mirko Cro-Cop (Rank at the time: #15; Current Rank: NR) -
UFC 108 - vs. Gilbert Yvel (Rank at the time: #22; Current Rank: NR)
UFC on VS - vs. Gabriel Gonzaga (Rank at the time: #13; Current Rank: NR)
UFC 117 - vs. Roy Nelson (Rank at the time: #18; Current Rank: #14)
UFC on FOX - vs. Cain Velasquez (Rank at the time: #1; Current Rank: #2)
UFC 146 - vs. Frank Mir (Current Rank: #4)
If you're keeping score, that's:
- 8 ranked opponents (at the time of the fight)
- 7 finishes (Cro-Cop fight is a verbal submission)
- 6 currently ranked fighters with four of them in the current top 10
- 3 former UFC HW champions (although I don't really have any arguments if you do not include Carwin).
- 2 unanimous decision wins so dominant that Dos Santos had a 30-26 scorecard in his fights against Carwin and Nelson.
- 1 former UFC HW title challenger (Gonzaga)
- 1 guy who is the only man to ever submit Fedor (Werdum).
- 1 former PRIDE World Grand-Prix Openweight Champion (Cro-Cop).
What makes Dos Santos' rise to the heavyweight summit so incredible is that he started his UFC career by fighting and KOing a top 5 heavyweight and never had a substantial drop in competition. At no point in time has he ever been brought up the traditional way like many other of the recent contenders. Cain Velasquez fought Denis Stojnic and Jake O'Brien, Shane Carwin had stalwarts like Christian Wellisch and Neil Wain to play with before getting matched with the big boys.
Another contributing factor to Dos Santos' impressive victims list is he pretty much had to wait in line for his title shot, thus always getting credible opposition while waiting for his call. JDS holds the longest winning streak in UFC HW history before even fighting for the title. The following list does contain the most recent title shots granted as well as Frank Mir's numerous title fights attempts (interim and unified).
UFC Winning Streaks Before Title Fight
Junior Dos Santos - 7
Cain Velasquez - 6
Shane Carwin - 3
Frank Mir's fourth title shot - 3
Frank Mir's first title shot - 3
Frank Mir's second title shot - 2
Frank Mir's third title shot - 1
Brock Lesnar - 1
No coincidence the top 2 on that list are undoubtedly the two beat heavyweights in the world, is it?
Dos Santos' 7 fight winning streak is also the 2nd longest without fighting for a UFC belt. Jon Fitch holds the record by going 8-0 before GSP turned his face into Grimace from McDonald's. Even then, Fitch's debut was at middleweight so he had 7 in a row at welterweight, so take it for what it's worth.
Junior Dos Santos is not only a special talent, but he has the potential to be one of MMA's all-time greatest heavyweights. He has not even lost a round during his time with the UFC. When your worst win was then just 22 and making his UFC debut, and your second worst win is a guy who holds a TKO win over Cheick Kongo and is one of only two men to ever KO Semmy Schilt in MMA competition, you know you've accomplished.
The only realistic challenges for Dos Santos right now are Cain Velasquez (whom he's already beaten), Daniel Cormier, Alistair Overeem, and maybe Travis Browne. After that, who's next? Jon Jones? He's beaten the best of the best for so long that he's closer to cleaning out the division than we think.
Sit back and enjoy the ride everyone, we're witnesses to a potential legend in the making.