Sat Jan 02 10:24pm EST
Junior Dos Santos walked to the Octagon with Rocky's "Gonna Fly Now," and he channeled the spirit of the legendary fictional boxer by going toe to toe with renowned striker Gilbert Yvel.
The quick pace tired Yvel, who took the fight on less than a month's notice. The Dutchman got sloppy and Dos Santos countered with a left hook. It dropped Yvel to the canvas, and "Cigano" unloaded 15 more shots. Two big rights to the side of Yvel's head forced referee Herb Dean to stop it at 2:07 of the first round.
Responding to where this puts him in the UFC's heavyweight division, Dos Santos said "on the top."
It looked like Yvel, at 6-foot-2 and 239 pounds, knew he only had so much stamina to work with. He came out swinging wildly and landed good shots, but Dos Santos walked right through them. His superior movement kept him safe.
This was a nice win for the 26-year-old Brazilian. Josh Barnett, widely regarded as a top seven heavyweight in the world, went the distance with Yvel (36-14-1, 0-1 UFC) at Affliction 2.
Dos Santos moves one step closer to an eventual title shot in the UFC's heavyweight ranks, but whom that fight would be against is unknown. Champ Brock Lesnar is sidelined indefinitely with intestinal issues.
Dos Santos' next major fight will likely challenge his takedown defense and ground game. Most of the contenders above and below Dos Santos all have strong wrestling or jiu-jitsu.
Dos Santos (10-1, 4-0 UFC) was especially emotional for this one. Maybe it was the Rocky song. His manager/translator Ed Soares told Cagewriter that Dos Santos really pushed for the tune. Soares said Dos Santos told him that his right hand twitches when he hears the song, and the Brazilian was fired up when he reached the octagon. After Bruce Buffer screamed his name, Dos Santos walked to the center of the ring and, in Tito Ortiz fashion, made a chopping motion with his arm and pointed toward Yvel.
The TKO win is probably a candidate for knockout of the night. He's probaly competing right now with Jake Ellenberger for the award. Ellenberger took out Mike Pyle in the second fight of the night.
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