Among the long list of impressive victors at UFC 95 on Saturday night was Junior Dos Santos (8-1) who dispatched of 6’11” Stefan Struve rather quickly to make himself a perfect two-for-two inside the octagon.
After shocking many in the MMA community with his earth-shattering knockout of top heavyweight contender Fabricio Werdum, Dos Santos followed his debut up with a rather thundering sophomore performance. Dos Santos stormed “the skyscraper” about a minute into the first round with a big right that backed his opponent up against the cage and finished by throwing several unanswered haymakers that landed flush upside Struve’s head.
Suddenly there are a hefty handful of heavyweight contenders to challenge the duo champions Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir. At UFC 96 two of that group are set to do battle as Gabriel Gonzaga (10-3) looks to continue his rise back atop the division ladder in his search for a second title shot against the 34-year-old behemoth Shane Carwin (10-0) who has yet to lose inside the octagon. Arguably fighting for the No. 1 contender position, both Gonzaga and Carwin are a head above the secondary contender group that now includes the up-and-coming Dos Santos.
Keeping Dos Santos company in that second tier are youngsters Cheick Kongo (23-4-1) and undefeated Cain Velasquez (5-0) as well as the division mainstays like Randy Couture and Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera.
So with two big knockout wins in his first two fights in the UFC, Dos Santos has burst onto the scene in a division that is suddenly boiling over with talent and exciting match-ups. Keep an eye on him as well as the entire heavyweight division in 2009, it’s going to be an exciting time for sure.