The Brazilian started out on day one facing countryman Fabricio Werdum, who was at the time a top ten heavyweight and considered an extremely tough test for any fighter, much less someone making his UFC debut.
Dos Santos knocked him out in the first round.
From there Dos Santos went on to wreak havoc in the UFC's biggest division picking up wins over Stefan Struve, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Gilbert Yvel, Gabriel Gonzaga, Roy Nelson, Shane Carwin, and then his title fight win over Cain Velasquez.
He now faces former K-1 Grand Prix champion Alistair Overeem for his first title defense, but despite his impressive accolades, UFC president Dana White is still very interested to see how he fares with such a difficult stylistic match-up.
“For me, the question is how is Dos Santos going to deal with the kicks and the knees and the elbows? Since he's been in the UFC, I've never seen him have to deal with that. It's stuff that he's going to have to deal with from Alistair Overeem,” White said recently.
White believes that Dos Santos has emulated another of his favorite fighters in Chuck Liddell thus far in his UFC career. Now that is of course a compliment, but it also raises some questions about Dos Santos' readiness to face a striker as dangerous as Overeem.
“He's fought a pretty one-dimensional fight, he's fought very Chuck Liddell like in that he's great at defending the takedown, he drops bombs, he throws heavy punches, but he's never dealt with anybody who's going to throw kicks and knees and work in the clinch the way that Alistair Overeem does,” White stated.
“I'm real curious to see how Junior Dos Santos is planning on dealing with that.”
There's no question that Overeem's striking credentials are almost unmatched when it comes to heavyweights competing in MMA.
A devastating power puncher with nasty knees and serious knockout power, Overeem won the 2010 K-1 Grand Prix in kickboxing, and in his UFC debut he punished former champion Brock Lesnar with a body kick before finishing him on the ground with strikes.
Overeem presents a set of skills that Dos Santos might not have seen before in the Octagon, but will it matter?
Tune in to UFC 146 in May to find out.
- UFC heavyweight champion
- Junior Dos Santos
- Alistair Overeem