It has been a while since former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos scored one of his signature knockouts. A force to be reckoned with at the biggest division in MMA, the Brazilian just wasn’t able to finish a fight in the last five-and-a-half years, ever since he defeated Mark Hunt with a spinning hook kick in May 2013.
Although dos Santos hasn’t remained as active, performing only six times since the Hunt bout, the Brazilian told Combate that he believes to have become a more careful fighter in these last years, which explains why he was unable to stop his last opponents. However, as Junior makes the final preparations to take on rising prospect Tai Tuivasa, the 34-year-old feels like the drought could end.
“Honestly, it’s hard to tell (why he hasn’t won by knockout in five years),” dos Santos said. “It could have something to do with my opponents’ strategy, who are studying me before fights. It’s just a matter of putting things in place so they can work in the most effective way. When I suffered a loss because of a silly mistake I made, that helped me get better, more self-conscious about making mistakes. It’s a little bit about my opponents studying me, but it’s a little bit about myself, too.”
“There was a time I was obsessed with evolving while listening to people who knew very little about fighting,” he added. “I trained more wrestling and jiu-jitsu and other aspects, which made me lose focus on my main asset, which is the knockout. That was a learning experience. With my current experience, I can put the pieces together in a better way. I’m happy with my training camp and, in this fight, I will look for the knockout.”
A fellow knockout specialist, Tai Tuivasa managed to finish seven of his eight professional bouts because of his striking, which includes two UFC knockouts. Because of those numbers, dos Santos believes the pair will be able to put on an exciting fight for the fans in Australia.
“It’s going to be a great fight, we’re two heavyweights who enjoy trading shots, we’re aggressive,” dos Santos said. “The fans are the biggest winners there, they’ll watch an exciting fight. Striking is the department where I feel confident, I can put together a win more easily. That will always be my goal, but I’m ready for anything. I want the crowd to have fun, that’s the kind of fight I’m looking for.”
“Many times, there are effective gameplans, like the wrestlers’ one. They’ll take you down, put pressure on you and won’t let their opponents fight. That’s a strategy that works, they score points, but it’s not exciting at all. The fight becomes monotonous, it’s not cool to watch.”
Junior dos Santos will take on Tai Tuivasa at UFC Fight Night 142, on December 1, in Adelaide, Australia.