Junior dos Santos is not trying to keep any secret game plans for his UFC Raleigh clash with Curtis Blaydes. In fact, he even offers to train and spar with his opponent before the five-round main event to show Blaydes exactly what he will try to do in the fight on Saturday night.
Blaydes is a teammate of Alistair Overeem, one of the few men to ever beat “Cigano” in MMA, and told The Score he received some “inside information” from “The Demolition Man” before the fight. If “Razor” wants an extra insight, dos Santos invites him to his workout room in Raleigh.
“I have nothing against Overeem. We fought and he had success, and then he disappeared,” dos Santos laughed during an interview with MMA Fighting. “If he wanted tips, he could have asked me [laughs]. I’ll tell him exactly what I’m going to do in the fight. I can even spar with him, train with him, and do the same thing in the fight. And I guarantee you it will work.
“Surprising your opponent with something they don’t expect is important, of course, but I believe that being effective comes from how much you impose your will. That’s who I am. I go there and impose my fight the way I want.”
“Cigano” basically kept the same fighting style throughout his entire MMA career, and it was successful most of the time. Using his heavy hands and speed, the Brazilian heavyweight beat the likes of Fabricio Werdum, Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez to become UFC champion.
Blaydes is a dangerous opponent who has beaten every MMA fighter not named Francis Ngannou, but dos Santos predicts another “second-round knockout” victory for his record.
“Study the first round, feel what he’s going to do,” dos Santos said, “And be more effective in the second round to get the knockout.”
The Brazilian veteran is seven years older than his foe, and had to battle a dangerous leg infection months before starting his camp. If Blaydes will decide to stand and trade with him in the Octagon to target his leg, that remains to be seen, but dos Santos invites him to try.
“It might happen. He can kick it, no problem,” dos Santos laughed. “I got kicked many times in the gym, and I’m ready. That won’t affect me any more than a regular kick would have. And it’s one thing to try, but landing a kick is a whole other thing [laughs].
“I think he will stand a little bit to distract me and then go for takedowns and work on top, which is what he does best. That’s what I think he will try to do. I’ll go for the knockout, as always. If we do go to the ground, we’ll grapple, and my goal will be to submit him.”
Rankings don’t mean much in the UFC these days, but Blaydes and dos Santos are head-to-head at Nos. 3 and 4 going into this fight. With all the uncertainty surrounding Stipe Miocic’s next fight, a possible trilogy out with Daniel Cormier, and Francis Ngannou facing rising sensation Jairzinho Rozenstruik next, dos Santos envious a scenario where he gets the next crack for the gold.
“I don’t think Miocic and Cormier should fight again right now, they should fight someone else like the UFC did with Velasquez and I,” he said. “A win Saturday against Curtis Blaydes puts me right in line for the belt again, and then it will depend on the result of Ngannou vs. Jairzinho. If Jairzinho wins, I think I would get the title shot.”
One could argue that it would be hard to deny Rozenstruik a shot at the UFC gold with a win over Ngannou, especially after the undefeated heavyweight knocked out Overeem, Andrei Arlovski, Allen Crowder and Junior Albini in just 10 months as a UFC fighter.
“He’s had a meteoric rise, and he’s done great, of course, and deserves it,” dos Santos said, “But he has to prove himself a bit more before fighting for the heavyweight title. In case they don’t agree, I can fight him next.”