Junior dos Santos managed to decisively beat the last man to challenge for Daniel Cormier’s belt, putting his name right back into the title-mix.
Or so it would seem, given that Derrick Lewis was ranked #3 in the divisional rankings.
While it lasted, the fight was about as much fun as we could have hoped for – a visceral contest with enough power on display to see its momentum swing wildly from the get-go.
It was pretty clear, though, that JDS was the finer technician of the two.
Lewis had his moments, for sure, as he caught his Brazilian adversary with some excruciatingly painful body-kicks and some well-timed counters, but for the most part, it was Junior who dictate the pace of the fight.
In one particularly memorable sequence, a spinning back-kick to the body from JDS caused an all-too-familiar look from The Black Beast as he crumpled down holding his mid-section.
Instantly, dos Santos moved in for the kill only to eat a huge right-hand that sprung from the hurt Lewis – causing a few seconds of chaos before the first-round’s conclusion.
The second the clock hits 1:00… Chaos breaks loose 🔥
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) March 10, 2019
Any suggestions that Derrick may have been playing up his discomfort to land that big shot were put to bed by his demeanour in between rounds. His coaches made it very clear that he needed the fight to finish in the next round.
In some ways, they got what they asked for.
JDS was able to crack with a clean right-hand before following up with ground-and-pound to close the show.
— Take Your Base Sports (@takeyourbasepod) March 10, 2019
It was a big win for Junior, one that puts him on a three-fight win-streak.
It’s easy to forget that the former-champion has only really suffered defeat at the hands of the very best to ever do it in this division.
Losses to Cain Velasquez, Alistair Overeem, and Stipe Miocic each came in brutal fashion for the Brazilian and at this point, the questions over his mileage will dictate whether this will be his last run at the title or not.
It’s not like he has ever really looked awful in there, though.
Even in his most recent KO loss at the hands of Stipe Miocic, it did seem – for a while, at least – that he was giving the then-champion some problems.
Now, the division in something of a log-jam due to the imminent retirement of its champion and seemingly guaranteed championship bouts including non-contenders Jon Jones and Brock Lesnar – if all goes to plan.
What that means for JDS remains to be seen but you’d have to assume that the likes of Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou are infinitely more likely to get a shot at the belt than he is.
Although it doesn’t look either man will get their crack any time soon.
Given the fact that he lost to Miocic very recently, I think a matchup with Francis Ngannou makes sense at this point.
It’s a dangerous one, yes, but if Junior is looking to make one last run at the belt, there’s absolutely no avoiding this seemingly rejuvenated power-puncher.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena