They didn’t disappoint.
From the start, it was clear that Hunt was aiming for a low kick to set up his bone-crushing left hook, while dos Santos wanted to use body jabs to launch his overhand right.
It looked like dos Santos might end the fight with an early knockout, dropping Hunt with an overhand right in the opening stanza. Hunt amazingly got right back up and recovered within seconds, taking the fight right back to dos Santos.
The two continued to fire back and forth for the next round and a half, but it was clear that dos Santos was the quicker fighter and had better footwork and head movement, inching his way towards a likely decision victory.
The former UFC heavyweight champion, however, refused to cruise to the bell. He wanted to make a statement.
dos Santos launched a spinning heel kick that dropped Hunt to the mat again late in the final round. He followed the New Zealander to the mat and punctuated his victory with a right hand to the head.
Hunt had given it his all throughout the fight, constantly looking for the one big knockout blow, but dos Santos would not be denied.
“He’s very dangerous. I had to respect him,” dos Santos admitted after the fight. “He’s dangerous, but a very nice guy. I like fighting guys like that. (But) everything was right and I won.”
The victory set dos Santos up for an opportunity to regain the belt that Cain Velasquez took from him just a few short months ago.
“That’s what I want,” exclaimed dos Santos. “I want that so bad. I want to be champion again.”
(Follow @KenPishna on Twitter)
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