The UFC’s Heavyweight Champion Junior Dos Santos will make his first title defense this coming May 26th in Las Vegas, Nevada when he faces multiple organization champion Alistair Overeem. Despite being the champion, Dos Santos is almost a forgotten man in the UFC Heavyweight division, with Overeem getting a lot of hype for his career ending destruction of Brock Lesnar and other stars such as Cain Velasquez, Fabrizio Werdum, Frank Mir, Antonio Noguiera all seeming to get more attention. Despite this, the line has been out for a few weeks, and Santos is firmly the favorite, though it is tight at -165. So let’s take a look at the bout, as I expect a lot of action to come in late for Overeem and for the line to change.
Overeem comes into the title fight with a lot of momentum. He entered the UFC as the Strikeforce, DREAM and K-1 title champion, and he backed it up with his Lesnar wipe out. Dos Santos, on the other hand, seems to be a bit of a forgotten man, as he has been in Brazil and out of the immediate spotlight since winning the title in November.
Overeem is going to be the bigger and longer of the two fighters come fight time, and I think Overeem will fight Dos Santos a lot like he fought Brock – methodical stalking, with a cautious approach if Dos Santos doesn’t come to him. But will that work against ‘Cigano’?
Overeem is a force, and the history of the heavyweight title in the UFC is not one replete with title defenses, which hints at a potential title change coming up.
But Dos Santos deserves credit for an efficient 14-1 record, and a perfect 8-0 record in the UFC. He has been a striking machine in his own right, taking most people out with his fists on his run to the title. It is not out of the realm of possibility that he could match standup with the Dutch phenom.
And on the ground, though we haven’t seen it from Dos Santos, he should be better than Overeem. Overeem has a lot of submission wins, but I credit them more to his physicality and a strong guillotine than anything else. Stay out of that front choke, and what else does Overeem have on the ground?
If a standup firefight emerges with ‘Cigano’ getting the short end, he will have to work for the takedown and avoid the guillotine. He is shorter and stockier, and will want to be in top position on the ground. From there either punches or a potential submission could be the key to him winning.
Though Overeem is a very motivated athlete, Dos Santos also has a lot of motivation to keep the belt, as he has tasted monetary and career success for the first time. He can’t be tired and complacent yet, can he? I don’t think so. I’m going to wait for what I expect to be an influx of Overeem money to come in, then I’m throwing down for Dos Santos to defend.