Being world heavyweight champion carries another title for Junior Dos Santos.
“Baddest man on the planet,” Dos Santos said Thursday. “That’s who I am, and what I want to be for a long time.”
The Ultimate Fighting Championship will certainly test that claim soon enough with Dos Santos (15-1) scheduled on Dec. 29 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas to make the second defense of his heavyweight belt in a rematch with Cain Velasquez, whom Dos Santos knocked out in 64 seconds last year at Honda Center in Anaheim.
Velasquez (10-1) is expected to abandon plans to match Dos Santos in a stand-up battle and pursue a wrestling match on the canvas.
Velasquez is a former Arizona State wrestler. Dos Santos has never won a professional MMA fight by forcing a submission on the ground.
“I believe I can keep the fight standing,” Dos Santos said. “But it doesn’t matter much.”
This is the baddest man on the planet talking.
“If he gets me down, I’ll either get back on my feet, or, if he holds me there, I’ve been working hard on my jiu jitsu, so I’ll work to submit him. This can be my first submission.”
Velasquez was dominant on the ground in his last fight, battering and bloodying the 6-foot-4 Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, a taller Brazilian like Dos Santos.
Yet, Dos Santos took on one of the UFC’s most respected jiu jitsu practitioners in May, as well, and dominated Frank Mir en route to a second-round technical knockout.
“Cain Velasquez is tough, but if he wants to fight me again standing, this fight will be fast again,” Dos Santos said.
Dos Santos dismissed the suggestion that he still has something to prove – like maintaining cardio with a fighter in peak shape like Velasquez – after winning six of his last nine fights by first- or second-round knockout.
“I don’t think I have anything to prove in the octagon other than doing my best,” Dos Santos said. “I beat him, and I will beat him again. In one round. In five rounds. Or more.”
Should he win, the tests will continue, likely starting with challenger Alistair Overeem.
Overeem was supposed to fight Dos Santos in May, but he failed a surprise test for testosterone by the Nevada State Athletic Commission in March, and is suspended. The suspension could be lifted by the end of the year.
“The UFC likes those fights that sell a lot, and Overeem is one of those guys that talks a lot … like he’s a bad,” guy, “so people, and the UFC, want to see that fight.
“But I don’t believe he deserves a shot at the title.”
Because of the testosterone positive?
“Yes,” Dos Santos said. “If it happens, I’ll be happy to take that fight, of course. I’m a clean fighter.
“Everyone wants to know who the real champion is. The real champion is a clean fighter. His performance is a fake.”