Junior dos Santos’ win over Ben Rothwell earlier this month put him back into the mix among the top end of the UFC’s heavyweight division. He’s already got wins over the next two men fighting for the title, current Champ Fabricio Werdum and challenger Stipe Miocic, and he thinks a rematch with Werdum would end just how their first fight did.
“I would knock him out pretty quickly, man,” dos Santos said in an interview with Submission Radio. “He got better. He’s a better stand-up fighter now. His jiu-itsu is the best in the heavyweight division. There is no doubt about that. But as a striker, he improved a lot, but he’s still a jiu-jitsu fighter, man. If I fight him, I’ll knock him out like pretty fast – maybe in the first or second round again.
“I was watching sometime his fight against Cain Velasquez and when he became the champion. Man, I can see he’s doing a little better on his stand-up game, but just a little better (laughs). He’s still a jiu-jitsu fighter. Talking about stand-up striking, I really believe and I’m very confident that I could knock him out again.”
That rematch could be a far way down the line for the former champ, but he sees at least one scenario that puts him next in line.
“If Travis Browne wins and Andrei Arlovski wins, then I don’t see anyone else to fight for the title but me (laughs),” dos Santos said. “Because who’s gonna be fighting for the title with the winner between me or Miocic or Werdum? There is no one else I think over there to fight with them. It would be a great opportunity for me if both Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem lose their fights. I think [if they lose], man I think it’s me (laughs).”
Penick’s Analysis: At least he knows it’s a bit of a long shot to get a title fight soon, but he could definitely be in a good spot if both Velasquez and Overeem were to lose. Overeem’s probably next in line with a win over Arlovski, while Velasquez would have a better case than dos Santos by getting a win under his belt after losing the title. That said, dos Santos looked better than he had in years against Rothwell, so whether he has another fight or not before getting another shot at that title, he’s at least given some encouraging signs that he can still compete at a high level.
[Junior dos Santos art by Grant Gould (c) MMATorch.com]
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