Junior dos Santos showed he could take a punch and give one in return in his latest main event victory to cap off UFC Fight Night from Adelaide, Australia.
The former UFC heavyweight champion had to survive some serious power courtesy of upstart contender Tai Tuivasa before surging to a second round TKO to earn his second straight victory inside the Octagon.
From the very start of the fight, Tuivasa was stalking dos Santos across the Octagon and launching bombs at him from the outside. Every time Tuivasa uncorked a punch, he was going for the knockout but dos Santos did a good job to avoid taking much damage early.
Dos Santos was able to avoid most of the biggest shots and then come back with his counter punches that clipped Tuivasa on the chin repeatedly in the first round.
What dos Santos couldn’t predict, however, was Tuivasa’s chin just absorbing the punches as the Australian slugger just kept moving forward.
Late in the opening stanza, Tuivasa blasted dos Santos with a brutal leg kick that buckled the former champion for a moment. Tuivasa began unleashing a huge combination of strikes to do maximum damage before the horn sounded.
The success he found in the first had Tuivasa once again on the attack in the second but his highly aggressive style finally backfired.
As Tuivasa came plowing forward with punches, he got caught by a hard right hand from dos Santos that rattled him on the feet. Rather than back out and recover, Tuivasa just kept coming after him and dos Santos made him pay.
The Brazilian boxer clipped him with several stinging shots but it was a short right hand that connected flush on the chin and sent Tuivasa tumbling down to the mat.
Dos Santos followed him to the ground and stayed patient while passing through his defense before eventually moving into the mount. From there, dos Santos began raining down shots and Tuivasa’s only defense was trying to throw punches from the bottom.
Finally with dos Santos connecting and Tuivasa no longer reacting, referee Herb Dean saw enough and called a stop to the contest at 2:30 into the second round.
It was an impressive outing from dos Santos, who had to endure a ferocious onslaught from Tuivasa to get the job done with a second round TKO.
“I knew he was tough but not that tough. Thank god, I got that victory,” dos Santos said after the win.
While he said that he’ll gladly fight ‘anyone’ that the UFC throws at him, dos Santos couldn’t help but have redemption on his mind following two straight wins inside the Octagon.
“I think a rematch with Alistair Overeem would be very good right now,” dos Santos said.
Dos Santos previously fell to Overeem in 2015 but obviously he never forgot about that defeat and following this latest knockout win, it seems he’d like to run it back again.
As for Tuivasa, while this will end as the first loss of his UFC career, the former rugby player turned mixed martial artist still showed he’s ready to hang with the best heavyweights in the world. Despite falling on Saturday night, Tuivasa already had his next opponent in mind.
“Justin Willis, you little bitch, I’m coming for you, boy,” Tuivasa said much to the enjoyment of the partisan crowd.
Earlier in the week, Tuivasa watched as Willis engaged in a backstage fracas with Mark Hunt and Tyson Pedro after the official weigh-ins. Tuivasa and Pedro are family so obviously he’d like the chance to face Willis and settle that grudge once and for all.