Junior dos Santos said he knows exactly what he has to do to beat Brock Lesnar when the two heavyweights meet at UFC 131 in Vancouver, Canada, and the game plan shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone.
As dos Santos told Ariel Helwani on Monday's episode of The MMA Hour, success in this fight will depend on his ability to defend against Lesnar's takedowns and target the former champ's suspect chin.
"He's a wrestler, so he feels uncomfortable when people throw punches on him," dos Santos told Helwani. "I think his fight against Cain Velasquez shows good things for me, because I think he's got a weak chin. I will try to use that, try to throw some punches and...try to use my boxing."
Of course, staying off one's back against Lesnar has proved to be a challenge for many of his former opponents. Lesnar was a national champion wrestler at the University of Minnesota, and against a powerful striker like dos Santos it seems likely that he'll try to get the fight to the mat right away.
That's okay, dos Santos said, because soon people will find that he's as fast a study when it comes to learning wrestling as he has been at learning English.
"My wrestling is very good and I think it will be hard for him to put me down. I will be very prepared. I will be in shape. I have to be one hundred percent in that fight. If he tries to put me down – for sure, he will try – but I will get up and keep the fight [standing]. That's my way to win the fight. I'm looking for the knockout all the time."
To prepare for this fight, dos Santos said he has been training in Brazil with a quality team, but is working with "nobody famous" in the weeks leading up to the bout. When asked whether he would work on his wrestling with help from Lew Polley, who dos Santos tapped as an assistant coach for his Ultimate Fighter squad, dos Santos replied simply: "No way."
As viewers of TUF 13 already know, dos Santos and Polley clashed over a difference in coaching philosophy early on, though dos Santos said there are no hard feelings now that it's over.
"My relationship with [Polley] is pretty good. I met him at the Alliance gym in San Diego, so that's why I [brought] him to the show, because he speaks English and at that time he was the coach at the gym, so I thought [about] him to bring to the show because, you know, he speaks English. That seemed like a good idea at that time," dos Santos said.
When filming began and Polley had some different ideas about how hard to push the fighters on Team Dos Santos, however, "Cigano" admitted he was taken aback.
"That was a surprise for me too, how Lew Polley was as a coach on the show, because it was a little bit different. I think it was a good opportunity for him, too, and he tried to enjoy that in the best way. Sometimes the best way to him is not the best way for me, and I am [the coach.]"
Dos Santos also recently drew the ire of Strikeforce heavyweight champ Alistair Overeem when he appeared to speculate that many heavyweights – perhaps even Overeem and Lesnar, who he described as "really big" – are using performance-enhancing drugs.
But while talking with Helwani, dos Santos clarified that he has no knowledge of whether Lesnar and Overeem are actually on steroids, but was merely speculating about the division as a whole.
"I said that, but I didn't affirm it that they use those things. They asked me about the heavyweights, and I told them. In the heavyweights, when we see people like Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem, we think about, oh, the guy's very big, so he uses [steroids], but I [didn't] affirm that. But I don't care what he's saying or what his thoughts [are] about that. ...I never use things like that, so I can do a test right now and it's not a problem for me."
Dos Santos will get his own chance to find out what it's like to tangle with a man of Lesnar's size and stature when the two step in the cage together on June 11. Lesnar will almost certainly have a size and strength advantage, but according to dos Santos it's speed and experience that will rule the day at UFC 131, and in the end he expects to add one more knockout win to his record, he said.
"I think I'm faster than him, and I've got more experience inside the cage than him. He's a very good wrestler, a very strong guy, but I think that's not enough to be a complete UFC fighter. I believe so much in my boxing, and that's going to be the way I will [be] during the fight. I will use my boxing and my footwork to make him feel uncomfortable and then I will throw some punches, and we're going to find out if he is a really tough guy."
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