Rising star Junior dos Santos is, in my view, such a talented mixed martial artist who has accomplished so much at such a young age (25) that it would be a big surprise if he doesn't win the heavyweight championship of the world some day. But there is one (pretty big) nagging question about dos Santos.
How good is he on the ground?
In four UFC fights, dos Santos has dominated four pretty good opponents, beating Fabricio Werdum, Stefan Struve, Mirko Cro Cop and Gilbert Yvel, and beating them all by using his heavy hands to win a KO or TKO. We still haven't seen what dos Santos can do on the ground, and taking a look at the fairly obscure opponents he fought before he got to the UFC, there is a little bit of a red flag in that he lost by first round submission (armbar) to the mediocre Joaquim Ferreira.
Having said all that, in the latest promotional video for dos Santos's upcoming fight with Gabriel Gonzaga, he insists that he's going to be just fine on the ground if that's where Gonzaga takes the fight.
"I'm very confident in my ground skills," dos Santos says. "I train with the Nogueira brothers, who I consider to be two of the best jiu jitsu practitioners in MMA. I'm very comfortable with my ground work and if it does go to the ground I'm going to put on a great show and put on a great fight. It might be this fight or it might be some other fight but some day you're going to see my jiu jitsu skills."
I hope that day comes soon. And if dos Santos can go to the ground with Gonzaga and still win, I think he'd have to be considered, along with Brock Lesnar, Frank Mir, Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez, one of the five best heavyweights in the UFC.
Still, dos Santos knows that where he really has the advantage over Gonzaga is on the feet.
"I do feel that I have the advantage on our feet," dos Santos says. "My strategy is to stand up and exchange with him."