UFC 160 goes down this Saturday, live on pay-per-view from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main event is a familiar matchup, pitting defending champ Cain Velasquez against Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva in a rematch of their UFC 146 bout, where Velasquez dominated Silva. The co-main event will most likely determine the next challenger for the heavyweight title, and features former champion Junior Dos Santos taking on surging knockout artist Mark ‘The Super Samoan’ Hunt.
Hunt comes into this fight on a four-fight win streak, having knocked out Chris Tuchscherer, beat Ben Rothwell by decision, and TKO-ed Cheick Kongo and Stefan Struve. Hunt was the K-1 World Grand Prix Champion in 2001, and has seen a career resurgence after being submitted by Sean McCorkle in his UFC debut. He has his work cut out for him against ‘Cigano’ however.
Dos Santos comes in to this fight on the heels of his only UFC loss, which came at UFC 155 where he lost the heavyweight title to Velasquez. Dos Santos has beaten a multitude of present and past top 10 heavyweights, including Velasquez, Frank Mir, Shane Carwin, Roy Nelson, Mirko Cro Cop, Gabriel Gonzaga, and Stefan Struve. Only two of Dos Santos nine UFC wins have come by decision, and only two of his seven finishes in the octagon have come outside of the first round.
Fightmetric striking stats show that Dos Santos lands an average of 5.51 strikes per minute (SLpM), whereas Hunt lands only 3.58 strikes per minute. Now, anyone who has ever seen Mark Hunt land a punch knows that he normally isn’t afforded the opportunity to land volume, due to his opponents’ tendancy to get knocked out by his punches. Dos Santos is slightly more accurate on the feet, coming in at 48% versus Hunt’s 45%. Hunt does absorb stirkes less often, with a strikes absorbed per-minute average of 1.88, compared to Dos Santos, who eats 2.78 strikes per minute. It’s also interesting to note that Hunt has only been finished by KO one time in his 16 mixed martial arts contests, by Melvin Manhoef in 2008. In fact, six of his seven losses have come by submission, which is something that Dos Santos has to be taking into consideration. Although Cigano has only racked up two wins by submission, he is a black belt in brazilian jui-jitsu under Yuri Carlton, and we may finally get to see some actual jui jitsu from Dos Santos.
Both fighters attempt an average of less than one takedown per fight, and Cigano defends 74% of takedowns attempted on him, and Hunt defends 70%. They also each attempt less than one submission per fight on average.
Both of these guys have one punch knock out power and both have faced heavy handed opponents in the past. Dos Santos comes in having beat a higher quality of competition, but he will have some difficulty putting Hunt away if he chooses to keep it standing, which is most likely where this one will be fought. It’s going to take a sustained effort, but look for Dos Santos to finish Hunt late in the fight, or take a unanimous decision to earn another shot at Cain Velasquez and the UFC heavyweight title.