UFC heavyweight Junior dos Santos tries to vault himself back into title contention against rising star Stipe Miocic at the UFC on Fox 13 in Phoenix on Saturday night.

The trilogy with Cain Velasquez is over and Velasquez got the best of dos Santos, but Velasquez’  injury concerns have opened the door for an interim heavyweight champion in Fabricio Werdum and another chance for the former heavyweight champion dos Santos.

The road back to UFC gold will not be easy for Junior with Stipe Miocic, one of the few fighters in the division who hasn’t been fighting for more than a decade. Miocic is making his own title run and would love nothing more than to establish himself as the number one contender with a win over dos Santos.

So how does Junior dos Santos avoid that?


Land the right

Beethoven had his fifth symphony, da Vinci had the Mona Lisa, and Junior dos Santos has his right hand. It’s his masterpiece, his magnum opus, his finishing move.

If dos Santos can land this during the first round, it could be a very short night for Miocic.

Miocic does a great job of moving away from his opponent’s dominant hand and using his jab effectively to keep his opponent from getting close. Dos Santos has to wait for Miocic to make a mistake in his movement and land the powerful right hand of his. If he can land that shot, it’ll change the complexity of the entire fight. If Junior doesn’t let Miocic be the first to land the first power strike, he’ll have a good shot at ending the night early because very few men can withstand his knockout power.

Cut off the cage

As stated in the previous key to victory, Miocic uses his movement as a way to counteract the best weapon of his opponent. Roy Nelson could never land his ginormous right hand because Miocic was constantly moving away from it. Nelson was content to just follow Stipe wherever he went without cutting off the cage and without controlling the Octagon.

Dos Santos can’t chase Miocic. Stipe is too technically sound of a boxer to chase and if dos Santos makes the same mistake Nelson made, he’ll be exhausted and eat a lot of jabs and straight rights throughout the fight.

Avoid gassing out

We know dos Santos can go into the later rounds and still be deadly as we saw in his fight against Mark Hunt. He’ll need that endurance level to be in top form again just in case Miocic isn’t as easy as Junior would like him to be.

I wouldn’t want to say dos Santos shouldn’t go for the finish if he has an opening, but he needs to wait until he knows, without a doubt, that he’s going to end the fight when he gets the chance to swarm. Stipe is an athlete with great cardio who can go the distance, so Junior must be wary of expending all of his energy too early.

If Junior dos Santos uses these keys, expect him to stop Miocic’s title run and hope he’s Werdum’s next fight if Velasquez isn’t ready to compete in the first half of 2015.

About The Author

Blane Ferguson
Associate Editor/Senior Staff Writer

Blane can trace his MMA roots, like many others, to the finale of the first Ultimate Fighter season between Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin. After watching that incredible fight and cleaning the local Blockbuster of any recorded UFC pay-per-views they had, Blane was hooked on watching the sport and he carried that passion with him to the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Blane is a four-year broadcasting veteran of ASU's campus radio including a founder and co-host of the station's combat sports show, The Final Round.