Road to Vancouver: Junior dos Santos punishes Roy Nelson for 15 minutes at UFC 117

Photo via Jon Kopaloff/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Behind him, Junior dos Santos has left a wake of crumpled bodies, disconnected from their consciousness.

Since debuting in the UFC back in 2008, he's finished each and every single one of his opponents that were unlucky enough to step inside the cage with him.

That streak of brutality ended when he faced off against "Big Country" Roy Nelson at UFC 117: "Silva vs. Sonnen."

The American took all the punishment "Cigano" could dish out but refused to go down.

Tonight's (June 11, 2011) main event of UFC 131: "Dos Santos vs. Carwin" pits the Brazilian against fellow heavy hitter Shane Carwin. It's a tussle of titans that is sure to end with one fighter glassy-eyed and incoherent.

We're just hours away. The excitement is almost at a fever pitch.

Let's go!

Why is this fight significant?

A useless bit of trivia for this fight is that it marks dos Santo's sixth straight UFC win. Only one other heavyweight has had to win as many bouts before getting a title shot and it's the current champ Cain Velasquez.

While "Cigano's" got nothing on Jon Fitch, it's rare for the big boys of the promotion to wait so long before getting their chance at gold. A couple of solid wins used to be the prerequisite.

It must have been frustrating for the Brazilian, delivering the usual punishment but without the satisfaction of his opponent quitting.

Despite that, dos Santos continued to press forward to earn the one-sided unanimous decision. After six wins at the pinnacle of the sport, it was hard for the naysayers to keep writing off the victories.

What happened in the fight?

Seriously, if Carwin hasn't been working on defending dos Santos' uppercut, it's going to be a very short fight for "The Engineer." 

The Brazilian was able to stagger Nelson twice in the first round with that devastating strike, a favorite of his. 

Dos Santos powered through each of "Big Country's" takedown attempts, one in the first round and a few in the second including one that might have succeeded if the cage hadn't stopped the fighters' momentum.

Also in the second, Nelson opened up "Cigano" right underneath his right eye. While he wasn't landing nearly as effectively or close to as much as his opponent, the Las Vegas native was still managing to catch him in the exchanges.

But dos Santos dominated the stand-up and as evidenced by the first 10 minutes, Nelson wasn't going to have any luck getting the fight to the ground.

You could see "Cigano" start to get somewhat frustrated at the end of the second. Not enough to throw him off his game but going back to his corner afterwards, the look on his face is one of, "What do I have to do to finish this guy?"

In the third, "Big Country" catches the Brazilian with a crisp one-two but he answers back with a vicious combination of his own. Dos Santos started to open up more seemingly to squash any momentum Nelson might have been feeling after landing the pair of punches.

Surprisingly, either due to fatigue or just to throw a wrench into Nelson's defenses, dos Santos completes a takedown, something we hadn't seen in his UFC career. Those who have been keeping up with this series have seen him execute a couple of takedowns but even early in his career, it was a rarity.

Dos Santos does get tired in the second half of the final round, that much is sure. He allows Nelson to score cleanly with hooks and uppercuts while they are clinched up, something a fresh "Cigano" would never let happen.

Still, though, it's another impressive performance from the young knockout kid.

What do we learn?

While it's not a stone cold fact, this fight brought up questions about "Cigano" as he slowed down significantly in the last round. Fortunately for dos Santos, it's doubtful his fight with Carwin will enter the third stanza but should we defeat "The Engineer," he'll be taking on Cain Velasquez, a wrestler by trade who trains with some of the best.

In that case, stamina will be a huge factor.

Another issue for many was the fact that the Brazilian couldn't put "Big Country" away. His power was called into question but I think that Nelson's refusal to be stopped in this fight and his recent tilt with Mir prove that it's night impossible to finish the big Las Vegas native.

Andrei Arlovski accomplished this several years ago but the Belarusian was on fire at that point and looked nearly unstoppable.

Power isn't a problem. "Cigano" has it. Cardio? That may be something to possibly look at in the near future.

Thanks for reading, folks. It's always fun going back and analyzing past fights before a big main event.

I did it with Georges St. Pierre and Jake Shields and it only further solidified by belief that GSP would win rather easily.

Now after doing the same for UFC 131's main event, I am assured that Junior dos Santos will win via second round TKO. 

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