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MMA Squared Ep. 22: Junior dos Santos may be lost forever

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While only 34 years old, the career of a beloved heavyweight may be ending after wars with Cain Velasquez, Stipe Miocic, Mark Hunt, and every other big name of the past decade.

For the past ten years, Junior dos Santos has fought (and brutally defeated) a who’s who of heavyweight greats.

starting with a UFC debut KO over Fabricio Werdum, a rematch we sorely need

He’s also one of the few Brazilian champions to gain warm feelings from North American fans due to his contagious innocent exuberance, coupled with ferocious knockouts.

he won the title in the inaugural Big FOX show

Since his title run though, he’s taken an enormous amount of damage in six of his last seven fights, win or lose.

Cain has taken years off of JDS’s life, but the staredown during their third fight is almost worth the cost.

Even though dos Santos is only 34 years old he has a Shogun Rua level of mileage on his body. And there is no promotional push behind the once beloved champion.

Remember when he said his hands hurt from hitting Roy Nelson so much?

For the past four years JDS has been consistently booked to fill a void left by various stars like Cain Velasquez (injuries) and Alistair Overeem (failed drug test & bizarre losses to lower level competition). He became a favored toy of the UFC, smashing him against every available elite opponent.

This metaphor can be used for so many fighters. Paige Van Zant & Paul Felder come to mind.

And the results are unsurprising.

Junior dos Santos is going to fight a guy named Blagoy Ivanov. Hardcore fans might recognize the name of this former WSOF Heavyweight champ, but the booking represents a turning point.

Do you remember the fresh faced 20something with the endearing hairline?

(Ivanov almost died after being stabbed in the heart by an assailant nicknamed “The Dumbbell”) The cynic in me says that the UFC is using dos Santos as a stepping stone for Ivanov.

It’s difficult to speak so harshly of a former champion who has defeated Cain Velasquez, Stipe Miocic, Fabricio Werdum, Mark Hunt, Frank Mir, and more, but even gladiators need someone in their corner looking out for their well being. He’s never taken a tuneup fight. His corner has never thrown in the towel. It has resulted in a stunningly violent career, but one that may end sooner than it had to.

As always, MMA Squared is brought to you by Combat Wombat, and expression of marsupial violence known... somewhere.