Junior Dos Santos produced a dominant display over Shane Carwin tonight that confirms him as the undisputed No.1 contender in the UFC’s heavyweight division.
Round one was huge for Dos Santos. Things started slowly, but it began to become apparent that Dos Santos was more willing to throw first, and his speed was allowing him to get back out of range before Carwin could connect with his own punches.
Significantly Dos Santos also managed to stuff two takedown attempts from Carwin, ensuring that this fight was likely now going to be taking place almost exclusively on the feet.
Dos Santos was also using his range well and working behind the jab a lot. As the round drew towards a close Dos Santos was clearly finding his rhythm and began to turn up the heat, letting his combinations go and a big left hand buckles Carwin.
The Brazilian pounces and unleashes an army of strikes on Carwin who can do little but turtle up and try to regain his senses. It’s almost as if the tables have been turned for Carwin as this is very reminiscent of what he did to Brock Lesnar last year.
Like Lesnar, Carwin is given plenty of chances to prove to the referee that he’s still in the fight, and somehow he manages to survive the enslaught, though his face is a blood mess as he struggles to his feet as the bell sounds.
Did Dos Santos burn himself out trying to get the finish like Carwin did last year? There was no evidence of that in round two although he did take his foot off the accelerator in round two, going back to working behind the jab for most of the following five minutes.
That gave Carwin time to regain his senses though he was unable to amount much offense of his own, aside from one charge forward where he landed a left and right combination.
For Dos Santos the biggest moment of the round was an unexpected head kick which connected, but somehow Carwin seemed to shrug off.
Carwin needs a big last round but he’s doing well just to still be here after the punishment he took in the first round.
Dos Santos continues to pick him off with his superior boxing ability and speed, and later in the round he has an extra trick up his sleeve as he lands a takedown which Carwin quickly gets up from, followed by another just as the final bell sounds.
No surprises with the decision here with all three judges awarding Dos Santos a clean sweep (30-27 x2, 30-26).
Overall it’s a tremendous performance from Dos Santos that leaves absolutely no doubt that he’s the best challenger for Cain Velasquez’ title, and that’s now shaping up to be a very intriguing contest.
As for Carwin, this was a tough night in which he clearly came up second best in the striking, struggled to get his wrestling game going, and was still markedly slower than Dos Santos despite his recent weight loss. He showed tremendous heart though and will perhaps take some small consolation in the fact that he made it to the final bell.