Junior dos Santos Credits Toughness of Shane Carwin, Wrestling of Cain Velasquez
By Kelsey Mowatt
Junior dos Santos could have sat on the sidelines and waited for the return of the injured UFC heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez, but instead the 26 year-old-fighter elected to keep fighting, evolve as a fighter and gain more valuable experience in the Octagon. After watching the Brazilian’s one side, thoroughly dominant unanimous decision win over Shane Carwin last night in Vancouver, there can be little doubt dos Santos made the right decision.
The fact that dos Santos is one of the heavyweight division’s best strikers is no secret; however, the manner in which the 13-1 fighter employed his pugilistic abilities against Carwin was particularly impressive. Keenly aware of Carwin’s abilities, both in his powerful hands and in the wrestling department, dos Santos carefully weighed his opportunities throughout their UFC 131 tilt and systematically picked apart his opponent.
“I think I did a lot of jabs tonight because it was a little bit more safe for me,” dos Santos said in the post fight press conference, while discussing the importance his jab played in the victory. “Just throw jabs and stay in a safe distance from him because he hits hard and I have to respect that.”
Of course, for a few dramatic moments, it appeared as though the earlier warning from dos Santos that last night’s fight might be brief may come to pass, after he sent Carwin stumbling to the mat in round one. Dos Santos swarmed Carwin with a barrage of follow-up lefts that bloodied and bruised the heavyweight, but to the accomplished wrestler’s credit, he remained active enough to prevent referee Herb Dean from stopping the fight.
“I tried to finish him in the first round but like he said he got a hard chin,” said dos Santos. “He’s tough so I couldn’t.”
Now, after months of speculation as to how the heavyweight title picture would unfold, dos Santos will face Velasquez sometime later this year. While both men have turned heads throughout the MMA world with highlight reel striking, questions regarding how the wrestling abilities of dos Santos would stack up against those of the dynamic wrestler have been common.
Last night, not only did dos Santos negate the takedown attempts of Carwin, he proceeded to take his opponent down in the third round on a couple of occasions. Although the performance may not have answered all of the questions reading the wrestling skills of dos Santos, it certainly provided some valuable insights.
“I think the best of Cain is his cardio; he’s very good in wrestling too so I have to train a lot of this,” said dos Santos when asked to assess the abilities of Velasquez. “I’m learning very fast wrestling and I’ll try to make the defence of his takedowns. Using my boxing, all the time I look for the knockout and it’s not going to be different.”