UFC 160 analysis: Junior dos Santos adds to his tremendous resume with knockout of Mark Hunt

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Bloody Elbow's Mookie Alexander examines the growing resume of UFC heavyweight contender and former champion Junior dos Santos, who knocked out Mark Hunt last night at UFC 160.

Junior dos Santos defeating Mark Hunt is hardly surprising. The former heavyweight champion has consistently been one of the best in the division since 2008, while Hunt's tremendous run in the twilight of his career has only happened in the past two years. However, I don't think anyone could've possibly predicted that JDS would knock Hunt out with a spinning wheel kick in the closing minute of the final round. For the most part, the Brazilian has relied heavily on his boxing and outstanding takedown defense to win fights, so we've really never seen him use his kicking game too often; he used it last night and produced one of the greatest knockouts in heavyweight MMA history.

It's another impressive name on dos Santos' record, and he's all but assured himself another fight with champion Cain Velasquez, in what could turn out to be one of the great heavyweight rivalries in MMA. Junior (18-2) has fought 16 opponents in his MMA career and has defeated all of them -- his two losses came in rematches against Cain Velasquez and Joaquim Ferreira, both of whom had previously lost to JDS by 1st round KO. I say this as an admitted biased "supporter" of Junior, but his current accomplishments merit recognition as one of the best heavyweight resumes the sport has ever seen. In just 7 years in MMA and 5 in the UFC, dos Santos has done the following:

  • Knocked out Fabricio Werdum (UFC 90). To this day JDS remains the only man to ever defeat Werdum by stoppage, and he did so in his UFC debut as a 5-to-1 underdog. Werdum carved out a successful stint in Strikeforce, capped off with a memorable submission win over Fedor Emelianenko, and is once again a UFC contender in present day, but JDS' uppercut KO remains Fabricio's most devastating loss in his career.
  • Defeated 4 current and former champions - Mirko Filipovic (former PRIDE champion), Shane Carwin (former UFC interim champion), Cain Velasquez (current UFC champion), Frank Mir (former UFC champion). The Cro Cop win came at a time when it was evident that he was on the decline, but it was also just JDS' 3rd UFC fight and he soundly defeated Mirko over 3 rounds. JDS earned his first title shot when he pounded out Shane Carwin in the main event of UFC 131. He struck gold at UFC on Fox 1 when he knocked out Velasquez in Anaheim, in what stands as one of the fastest KOs in UFC title fight history. Before losing the belt to Cain he successfully defended his title against Frank Mir at UFC 146. Mir has been knocked out several times, but this one came in the midst of a three fight win streak.
  • Finished and/or knocked down all of his UFC opponents. dos Santos has won 10 fights in the UFC, with 8 coming by stoppage, and in his two decision wins over Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson managed a knockdown of both fighters as well as one 30-26 scorecard. Only Mirko Cro Cop avoided getting dropped by JDS, but he verbally submitted in the 3rd round having sustained enough punishment while upright.
  • Knocked out Mark Hunt. That requires no explanation and it is also worth repeating. Junior dos Santos knocked out Mark Hunt with a spinning wheel kick.
Subtracting the opponents I've just listed, his other UFC wins are Gabriel Gonzaga (former #1 contender), Stefan Struve (recent top 10 heavyweight), and Gilbert Yvel (he knocked out a referee that one time!). He might not be the champion right now, but through overall body of work I think he has the best resume at heavyweight today. At this rate, especially if he wins the UFC title again, he will certainly be pegged as one of the all-time greats in the sport.

Does dos Santos have exploitable flaws in his game? Absolutely. He has a tendency to back his way towards the cage (and both Velasquez and Hunt were able to land punishing shots), and generally speaking he isn't great defensively, but not to the point where he's Brendan Schaub. All things considered, it cannot be denied that he is a gifted athlete with vaunted punching power and, like Cain Velasquez, is a cut above the rest of the heavyweight division. At just 29 years old he's achieved so much at the highest levels of the sport, and now he's just about in a position to take back the belt from Velasquez. The only question remains is whether or not he'll be able to to win the trilogy.

SBN coverage of UFC 160: Velasquez vs. Bigfoot 2


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