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Junior dos Santos: I'll Surprise Gonzaga With My Speed

Junior dos SantosJunior dos Santos is younger than Gabriel Gonzaga, smaller than Gabriel Gonzaga and less experienced with Gabriel Gonzaga.

But as dos Santos prepares to battle Gonzaga on Sunday night at UFC on Versus 1, he says he's confident he's going to win because he's faster than Gonzaga.

"I am ready to go wherever the fight takes us, but I believe I will surprise him with my speed," dos Santos says. "I am very confident with my stand up."

Dos Santos certainly has good reason to be confident in his stand-up. In four UFC fights, he's beaten four opponents (Fabricio Werdum, Stefan Struve, Mirko Cro Cop and Gilbert Yvel) by doing nothing fancier than standing in front of them, going on the attack and landing clean, effective, powerful punches.

But Gonzaga has pretty good stand-up, too. He has knockout power in his hands and his feet, and he's also about 25 pounds heavier than dos Santos. While acknowledging that he'll be the smaller man in the Octagon on Sunday night, dos Santos emphasized that speed advantage as the reason he thinks he's going to win.

"I am not worried about that," dos Santos said of Gonzaga's size. "Again, I believe my speed will be superior."

Gonzaga would seem to have a significant advantage over dos Santos if the fight goes to the ground: In addition to being the bigger man, Gonzaga is a more decorated jiu jitsu practitioner than dos Santos. And dos Santos, whose only loss in his MMA career came via an armbar submission in a 2007 bout in a small Brazilian promotion, acknowledges that he hasn't been tested on the ground since signing with the UFC in 2008.

But dos Santos, who trains in Braziliani jiu jitsu with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, says that if he is tested on the ground, he'll be ready for it.

"I am very comfortable on the ground, I believe in my jiu jitsu skills," dos Santos said. "I haven't had to go to the ground in the UFC yet, but if it happens, I will be ready."

Still, dos Santos says, his favorite way to win a fight is the way he's done it in all four fights of his UFC career so far: With his punching power.

"I am always looking for the knockout when I fight," he said.

As the UFC's heavyweight division currently stands, there are at least three fighters ahead of dos Santos in line for a shot at the champion, Brock Lesnar: Frank Mir, Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez. The winner of the Mir-Carwin UFC 111 fight will get the first crack at Lesnar, unless he suffers an injury, in which case Velasquez would step in. So dos Santos is at least one more win away from a title shot, even if he beats Gonzaga in convincing fashion. But dos Santos says he's ready for a title shot right now.

"I feel that if I have a good victory over Gonzaga, as I have been doing in my UFC career I will be ready for a title shot. I consider myself to be up there with the top heavyweights in the UFC now," he said.

It might not come in 2010, but dos Santos believes the time is coming when he'll be the heavyweight champion of the world.

"My goal is to be the best one day," he said. "I feel that I am not yet at my peak and I believe that when I reach that point, I will be a great fighter."

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