Vancouver - After a near three-year career in the UFC, seven fights and one full season of reality television, it’s hard to recall a time when Junior dos Santos wasn’t grinning ear to ear. Sometimes it seems like the guy has never had a bad day. Why start now?
Dos Santos looked almost picture perfect on Saturday night at UFC 131, putting on a tour de force performance as he battered Shane Carwin en route to a unanimous decision victory in their bout to determine a No.1 contender for the UFC heavyweight championship. He’ll now face Cain Velasquez for the gold, as soon as the champ returns from surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff.
"Much respect for Cain Velasquez, “ dos Santos said in the cage after the fight, “but Cain, I'm coming for you.”
Considering what we saw on Saturday night, that could be scary for the champion. After a feeling out process that lasted longer than some theorized the entire fight would go, dos Santos floored Carwin down the stretch in the first and unleashed a barrage of punches that nearly forced referee Herb Dean to stop the fight. He didn’t, though as Carwin returned to his corner between rounds his face was a bloody mess and it was clear he’d suffered a broken nose.
Credit Carwin for hanging in there for the entire 15 minutes, but he was unable to mount any sustained offense during the final two rounds. Dos Santos won the day with a fluid jab, speed and footwork. His bout against Velasquez is now targeted for October or November, depending on how quickly the champion can get medically cleared to resume full training.
In the co-main event, it turned out Kenny Florian needed the one thing no one counted on to salt away victory in his featherweight debut against Diego Nunes: Cardio. Florian suffered through a difficult first round against the Top 10-ranked Nunes – getting dropped by a punch just before the end of the stanza – but rebounded to outwork his fading foe during the final 10 minutes.
The win makes the popular Florian, who twice fought for the title at 155-pounds, an instant contender in his new weight class. While champion Jose Aldo is out tending to chronic neck issues, previous No. 1 contender Chad Mendes will take a fight against Rani Yahya at UFC 133. The outcome of that contest might well effect Florian’s immediate future – either a title eliminator against Mendes or an immediate shot at the title against Aldo.
In other televised action, Mark Munoz outlasted Demian Maia to claim a unanimous decision win, while Dave Herman made a successful promotional debut with a second-round TKO over John Olav Einemo and Donald Cerrone crafted a unanimous judges’ verdict over Vagner Rocha.
Complete UFC 131 results:
Junior dos Santos def. Carwin via unanimous decision (30–27, 30–27, 30–26)
Kenny Florian def. Diego Nunes via unanimous decision (29–28, 29–28, 30–27)
Mark Munoz def. Demian Maia via unanimous decision (29–28, 29–28, 30–27)
Dave Herman def. John Olva Einemo via TKO (Punches), 3:19, round two
Donald Cerrone def. Vagner Rocha via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Sam Stout def. Yves Edwards via KO (punches), 3:52, round one
Chris Weidman def. Jesse Bongfeldt via submission (standing guillotine), 4:54, round 1
Krzysztof Soszynski def. Massenzio via unanimous decision (30–27, 30–26, 30–27)
Dusti Poirier def. Jason Young via unanimous decision (30–27, 30–27, 29–28)
Joey Beltran def. Aaron Rosa via TKO (punches), 1:26, round 3
UFC President Dana White (above) embarrassed after Gray Maynard beat Clay Guida by split decision to win a lightweight bout and the main event of the UFC card in Atlantic City.
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