Former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos held off Stipe Miocic via unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-46) in his first bout in 14 months. Dos Santos solidified his standing as the No. 2 heavyweight in the UFC with the victory.
It wasn’t a fight for the weak. Dos Santos and Miocic threw everything they had at each other for five rounds. Each fighter withstood strikes that would have knocked out most heavyweights in the division. Dos Santos, in particular, weathered a storm from Miocic in the second round. He later poured on the offense in the championship rounds to earn the close decision.
Dos Santos’s victory scrambles the heavyweight title picture. Champion Cain Velasquez and interim titleholder Fabricio Werdum will face each other in the coming months, but there is a log-jam of contenders behind them that have yet to set themselves apart. Well, all of them but one: Junior Dos Santos. Yes, the same Dos Santos that has lost two straight title fights to Velasquez in brutal fashion. The UFC rarely books a fourth fight between opponents, and it would be difficult to justify another rematch between them after Velasquez handled him easily in their last two meetings.
This is why Dos Santos’s win is a problem for the UFC. A Miocic victory would have made it easy for the UFC to plan its next two title fights. Now it remains to be seen who will face the winner of the Velasquez/Werdum bout. Should Dos Santos get a fourth fight with Velasquez if he wins? Should Travis Browne get a shot? What about the rest of the log-jam in the division?
The UFC could have a problem on its hands soon in the heavyweight division. There are few people that can challenge Velasquez within the weight class. Moreover, outside of Dos Santos and possibly Werdum, few heavyweights even have the UFC resume to warrant a challenge for the belt. Miocic would have become one of those fighters deserving of a shot. Now he’ll likely have to go back to the drawing board and win at least more two consecutive fights to earn title consideration.
That said, Dos Santos deserved the win over Miocic. He weathered the storm from the less experienced fighter and worked for all five rounds. Dos Santos’s superior cardio carried him, while Miocic faltered late. It was a close fight that could have been judged either way, but Dos Santos earned the win. Unfortunately, his victory comes at a price for the UFC’s heavyweight division.
Photo Credit: Lowkick MMA
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