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Dos Santos has youth on Cro Cop

Preview by Brady Crytzer

Making its return to the Lone Star State, the Ultimate Fighting Championship presents a night of action featuring some of the best up and coming warriors in its deep ranks at UFC 103: Franklin vs. Belfort on Saturday, September 19th. The evening’s co-feature pits MMA veteran knockout artist Mirko Cro Cop against rising star Junior Dos Santos. Cro Cop has become known as one of the sport’s premiere knockout artists but he has shown signs of being on the downturn. Will the upward momentum of Dos Santos be enough to elevate him to the next level of the heavyweight division? Let’s find out.

Striking: In the pure kickboxing environment there is no one technically better in the sport of MMA than Mirko Cro Cop. A standout on the world kickboxing circuit for the last ten years, Cro Cop has solidified himself as the king of the head kick in modern MMA. However, due to inconsistencies in training and contractual miscues, Cro Cop has been largely inactive against world class competition. Dos Santos, who entered the UFC as a Jiu Jitsu stand out, wasted no time displaying his vicious punching power en route to stopping his last two opponents. In his debut, Dos Santos shocked heavyweight staple Fabricio Werdum with a stunning one-punch KO. His second outing against Stevan Struve produced similar results.

As a natural counter puncher, Cro Cop should have a relatively easy time with the hard charging Dos Santos. But, due to inactivity and a relative air of impassiveness, Dos Santos could have just the right recipe to jump on him early and end his night.

Watch for Cro Cop to avoid the bull rush early by measuring his jab and using lateral movement to avoid punches. The real fight is what comes after the adrenaline slows down.

Grappling: No question here, Dos Santos gets the nod. Cro Cop will want no part of the Brazilian on the ground, because if he does he will be on his back. Dos Santos is much larger than the Croatian and will be on top should he decide to be. As seen against Gabriel Gonzaga, Cro Cop is easily overwhelmed by large heavyweights with a strong top game.

Dos Santos will most likely want to trade blows with Cro Cop because of pride, but he will be best served to put the former PrideFC Open Weight Grand Prix champion on his back ASAP.

Once there, submissions can be all but forgotten as victory is a simple matter of driving his man into the cage and landing heavy blows from the top.

How They Match Up: For Junior Dos Santos to win he needs to do what he does best. He came into the UFC with a world class grappling pedigree but has yet to use it. Watch for Dos Santos to show off his wrestling by taking Cro Cop to the mat and pounding him out in the second round.

That being said, Dos Santos may decide to stand up with the Croatian sensation. If he tries to box with Cro Cop he will most likely be biting off more than he can chew.

The first round will likely tick away as Dos Santos foolishly rushes Cro Cop with no effect because of his superior footwork. It will be late in round one when Dos Santos scores his first takedown and early in round two when he earns the ground n’ pound TKO.




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