Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos needed more than four years to scratch and claw his way back into a championship title fight, taking on reigning division kingpin Stipe Miocic in the UFC 211 pay-per-view (PPV) main event.
He didn’t last a single round.
That’s because the “Cigano” who lit up the division back in 2012 was not the same combatant who took the center of the Octagon in the American Airlines Center last Saturday night (May 13, 2017) in Dallas, Texas.
Dos Santos, who drops to 18-5 in defeat, spent the majority of his fight in reverse, consistently getting backed into the cage and forced to defend. That was just fine with Miocic, who pummeled the Brazilian en route to a technical knockout victory, improving to 17-2 in the process.
Fabricio Werdum and Cain Velasquez are currently ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the division, respectively, and the former is fighting Alistair Overeem — yet again — while the latter is taking some time off to have his body parts stitched back together a la Bill Crushank.
If ex-champ Werdum loses to Overeem, it’s unlikely “Demolition Man” will get a rematch against Miocic, especially considering he was plastered all over the fence at UFC 203 less than a year ago. That could potentially open the door for an opponent nestled deeper in the rankings.
Like No. 5-ranked Francis Ngannou, or No. 6-ranked Derrick Lewis.
“The Predator” remains unbooked while “The Black Beast” must first get past Mark Hunt at UFC Fight Night 110 next month in New Zealand. A loss for Lewis might pair him nicely with Dos Santos.
Though after watching him crumble against Miocic, I’m not sure what’s left for “Cigano.”
The Brazilian, 33, has long been known for his durability and zombie death march in the later rounds; however, we’ve now seen him go down in flames three times over the past couple of years.
Not sure how much tread is left on those tires.
A loss for Werdum would be a viable option for the reeling “Cigano,” who probably won't see another heavyweight title shot for the remainder of his mixed martial arts (MMA) career.
Unless he stops making hay while the sun shines in UFC.
I wouldn’t mind seeing him fight Andrei Arlovski, if “The Pitbull” can take a bite out of Marcin Tybura next month in Singapore. But let’s not worry too much about Dos Santos right now and instead focus on Miocic.
It’s nice to have some stability back in the heavyweight division.
How long Miocic can hold on to the strap remains to be seen, but he’s now won five straight with five knockouts, four of them in the first round. Sure, his opponents have an average age of 38, but that’s not his fault.
The heavyweight division is ... well, old.
That’s why Ngannou and Lewis are so important to this weight class and with any luck, they can continue their winning ways and (barring injuries) make a case for the next crack at the division crown.
Until then? This is Stipe’s world, they just live in it.