Although the heavily predicted knockout never came, Junior Dos Santos gave Shane Carwin a striking clinic atto re-earn his title shot against Cain Velasquez.
Carwin revealed his game plan early in the first round by shooting for takedowns, perhaps he correctly foreseen how the fight would play out on the feet. Going into the fight, most fans knew that Dos Santos was the better boxer but few would have expected him to openly engage with Carwin so frequently. To stand and trade with Shane Carwin for three rounds is a risk for any fighter, no matter how good a boxer you are.
Before the fight, many MMA pundits had presumed that Carwin’s key to victory would be through grappling and dirty boxing. Carwin’s dirty boxing is probably the most deadly in MMA as he can put you to sleep with very short punches from the clinch, just ask Frank Mir. Either that or he would look to drag the Brazilian to the ground and hopefully expose an untested hole in his game.
Another expected key to the fight was in its length. Carwin was exposed by Lesnar in his last fight for having a questionable gas tank and it was believed if Dos Santos could take Carwin into the deep waters Carwin might once again wilt. However, Carwin’s well documented diet plan appears to have worked. Carwin 2.0 survived to the end and his weary legs can be blamed on the level of punishment rather than muscular fatigue. Due to the broken nose he suffered in the first round, he had to finish the fight breathing exclusively from his gaping mouth while a river of blood flooded out from his gaping facial wounds.
So we’re back to where we were a few months ago with Dos Santos scheduled to challenge Cain Velasquez. The big thing that we have learned about Dos Santos from UFC 131 is that he can stuff takedowns from top level wrestlers like Shane Carwin and that when he is taken down it’s hard to keep him there. This is important evidence to look at when it comes to predicting the outcome of the fight with Velasquez.
Both fighters are very well rounded and both like to keep the fight standing to utilise their boxing. However on the feet you would have to give a slight edge to Dos Santos who has knocked out top level strikers like Mirko Cro Cop. I wouldn’t be surprised if Velasquez uses his background in wrestling to try and take the fight to the mat but Dos Santos has just proved that that’s no easy task.
So what did we learn from UFC 131? Well that you can’t always guarantee a knockout and that Dos Santos is undoubtedly the biggest threat to Cain Velasquez.