Story by Anthony Springer Jr.
Most fighters simply dream of fighting for a prestigious title at some time and place.
A few fight on the big stage.
UFC heavyweight title contender Junior dos Santos is in a strategy all his own.
After climbing up the ranks with a slew of highlight reel performances, dos Santos will go toe-to-toe with champion Cain Velasquez this Saturday at UFC on Fox 1—the organization’s biggest event . . . ever.
The world’s largest MMA promotion will have a potential audience of millions, a far cry from the hundreds of thousands who have had the pleasure of watching the slugger separate countless opponents from consciousness. If you’re unfamiliar with dos Santos, familiarize yourself with the outing that got him here—a three round throttling of former interim champion Shane Carwin. dos Santos showcased a superior striking attack spearheaded by a ferocious jab.Should the challenger pull off the win—betting lines have him a slight underdog—it’ll be the end of a perfect storm for the knockout artist. A year and some change ago, dos Santos could hardly speak English. A coaching stint on the Ultimate Fighter and some practice have the fighter proficiently speaking the language—a near prerequisite for stardom in the United States. He’s handled media appearances with all the grace of a man ready to be the champion.
“It was such a long wait for my title shot, but I am not sorry,” dos Santos said. “This, right now, is the greatest opportunity I could have had, fighting for the world heavyweight title live on FOX for the very first time.”
In a sporting world where the biggest personalities are often the brash and crass, dos Santos carves out a niche for himself. He’s respectful of his opponents, but confident in his skills and the journey that brought him to this point. If you’re waiting for a WWE-like skit in which he proclaims that he’ll destroy Velasquez in the Octagon, don’t hold your breath, it’s not coming.
“I’m very happy in my life right now. I’m in such a good place mentally and physically. I’m proof that if you work hard, treat people right and don’t doubt yourself, you can achieve your dreams. I genuinely believe that Cain is the greatest heavyweight in the world and it is an honor to fight him.
Just don’t confuse his humility with a lack of confidence. Ask him about the fight and you’ll get a bold prediction.
“I don’t think this fight will go five rounds,” he stated. “I have trained for five rounds but I don’t expect this to do the distance.”
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For more on the UFC or UFC: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos, visit www.UFC.com