Going into Saturday night's co-main event Junior Dos Santos, former UFC heavyweight champion, had a lot riding on the battle against Mark Hunt at UFC 160.
The fight was to determine who would earn the right to challenge undisputed Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez for the belt next. Having signed a major deal with Nike less than a year ago and then immediately losing his title in devastating fashion to Velasquez, the man he had won it from, Junior had a lot to prove. And he did not disappoint.
In what was a very entertaining and vicious fight Dos Santos knocked out Mark Hunt with less than one minute to go in the third round via spinning heel kick.
The kick was the cherry on top of a brilliant performance, which saw the twenty-nine year old Brazilian dominate his Australian opponent from start to finish.
Early in the first round Junior landed a ferocious overhand right, which dropped Hunt, but the resilient Islander from down-under managed to get right back to his feet.
Dos Santos perpetually used his superior speed and power to pick apart the "super samoan" landed hard shots to the head and body. Though Junior landed his strikes over and over again Hunt ate all the punches and kicks without looking hurt by any of them.
Junior landed several more overhand right power punches before taking down Hunt at the end of the second round and landing some short powerful elbows on the ground.
Having demonstrated his clear ground-dominance over Hunt I completely expected for Junior to take the fight to the ground again at the beginning of the third round and finish it by submission. Boy was I in for a surprise.
Junior continued to tear Hunt apart. While the Australian did land some solid punches throughout the bout he never appeared to be a real threat to the former champion. Slow, sluggish and clearly exhausted in the second and third rounds Mark Hunt was simply outclassed.
Just when I thought Junior was going to win by decision and was a little disappointed, as I believed he needed to send a message to Cain and the rest of the UFC and his critics, he did exactly that and had me cheering on my feet.
Less than a minute left in the fight and Dos Santos could have simply avoided Hunt's fists and taken his victory but, as a true champion would, he went for the kill.
I do not believe any heavyweight has ever finished a fight in the UFC with a spinning heel kick but Junior did. Displaying excellent form, speed and agility Junior went all out and landed his killing blow knocking the man with a granite chin out cold. He got in another punch before the referee could stop the fight, but it was a mere formality as Hunt was clearly unconscious.
Dos Santos did exactly what he needed to do to earn a shot at the title. He finished his opponent in a dominant and highlight-reel fashion. Now he will once again face the man who has clearly become his greatest rival, Cain Velasquez, in a fight for the Heavyweight title - Dos Santos vs. Velasquez III.
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