Welcome back fans and friends, it’s time for another one of my start-of-month recap posts, highlighting the biggest moments and best fighters of the previous month of MMA action. After a brief hiatus, “Fighter of the Month” returns to cover the huge amount of action we got in June 2011. In June we had all three major MMA promotions put on some very solid cards, with several amazing finishes and a mostly-fantastic “Perfect Storm” weekend. So, as you would expect, it’s tough to pick one fighter out of all the rest and crown him this month’s best fighter. But ultimately, I decided to go with the unstoppable Heavyweight wrecking machine that punched his ticket to the UFC Heavyweight Championship this month. So here’s why Junior dos Santos earns my pick for June 2011’s “Fighter of the Month”.
Let’s start out with the basics: first off, Junior dos Santos was already supposed to be facing the current UFC Heavyweight Champion, Cain Velasquez. Unfortunately, the champion would pull out of their upcoming fight with an injury, forcing “Cigano” to either sit on the sidelines for an extended period or risk his guaranteed shot at the championship by fighting one more time.
JDS ended up making the bold move: he decided to stay active and fight again. To reward his eagerness to fight, the UFC gave him a match-up with the man that has quickly become of the highest-drawing fighters in UFC history: former Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar. An entire season of “The Ultimate Fighter” was centered on their rivalry.
Unfortunately, Lesnar would also bow out of his fight with Junior, prompting a very late replacement by former Interim Heavyweight Champion Shane Carwin. Carwin was a wholly different fighter from Lesnar, with dynamite in his hands and muscles on top of his muscles. Plus, Carwin was making his big return and it looked as if he was a new man.
But none of that mattered, in the end. It didn’t matter that the smart thing to do would have been to sit on the sidelines. It didn’t matter that JDS lost a shot at Velasquez, then lost a shot at Lesnar, and then had to readjust to a completely different opponent in very short order.
All that mattered is that when the time came to put up or shut up, Junior dos Santos did what he does best: he absolutely destroys people, and he absolutely destroyed Shane Carwin.
Brock Lesnar may have given Shane Carwin his first loss, and a humbling loss it was. But JDS practically provided a blueprint on how to defeat Carwin, and his striking was so surgically-precise, his movement so good, that by the end of the fight… Junior dos Santos looked like he had done some light sparring. Shane Carwin, meanwhile, looked like someone had beaten him to a pulp.
And for the most part, that’s exactly what happened: even though Shane Carwin survived all three rounds, that’s all he did. He “survived”. Dos Santos beat the fight right out of him. And in doing so, he re-asserted his dominance in a division that’s brimming with potential and filled with hungry, young, very good upstarts. There is only one Junior dos Santos, he proved just that against Shane Carwin… and I’m never going to bet against him again.
And that’s what I think, fans and friends.