courtesy of vigilantemma.com

According to mmafighting.com, the rumored bout between Mark Hunt and Junior dos Santos is a go. Click ‘more’ to see my personal thoughts and analysis on the match up.

When a leg injury forced Overeem out of the bout against the former heavyweight champion, Mark Hunt was really the only logical choice. The New Zealand-native was just coming off of his impressive jaw-breaking KO of Stefan Struve at UFC on Fuel TV 8. That KOTN award winning performance would make it a four-fight winning streak for Hunt, 3 of those by knockout.

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However, a bout against the former champion Junior dos Santos would be a huge step up from the competition that Hunt has been facing. For the most part, Hunt has been fighting guys who haven’t really offered much threat to him on the feet. Even if you look at Cheick Kongo; sure, he has power and is a great striker, but he also seems to get dropped every fight he is in. And Stefan Struve, sure he started out as a kickboxer but out of 25 professional wins, only 7 of those were by (T)KO.

Junior dos Santos on the other hand is about as good of striker as you can get at heavyweight. He’s a little one-dimensional in the fact that he relies on his hands only, but it’s effective. In dos Santos’s last bout against Velasquez, we saw him gun shy and timid on the feet. I’d conclude that his timidness was purely anticipation for takedown attempts by Velasquez; chances are we’re not going to see Hunt shoot for takedowns against dos Santos.

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So with Hunt not shooting for takedowns, is this going to be entirely a stand up bout? Well, it could be. Dos Santos does have a ground game, although we haven’t really seen it. He does have a black-belt in BJJ but then again, what Brazilian MMA fighter doesn’t? And it must be incredibly hard to take Hunt down if you don’t have much of a wrestling back ground. You’d have to go for his legs if you wanted to take Hunt down because it’d be way too dangerous to try and clinch up with and move a big treestump like him around; meanwhile being hit with cinder blocks at your dome.

So potentially we could see both Mark Hunt and dos Santos with plans on keeping the fight on the feet. Now, usually dos Santos is the heavier hitter when he faces guys. He was at a bit of a power disadvantage against Shane Carwin, so he utilized his movement to methodically pick Carwin apart before he began to just tee-off on him. I think for dos Santos to really get the edge on Hunt on the feet, he’s going to need to utilize some footwork and keep Hunt on the outside; unfortunately for dos Santos, footwork has never been his friend. Usually when you watch dos Santos fight, his legs seem a bit stiff. That could potentially hurt him in his fight Hunt if Mark decides to storm dos Santos.

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For Hunt, it’s going to be all about feints and timing. Dos Santos packs a heavy shot and knows what he’s doing on the feet, but don’t forget that Mark Hunt has 9 years of K-1 experience and has fought the best strikers on the planet. Hunt is going to need to bait dos Santos in by keeping his head low and getting Junior to lean in and throw at him. By doing this, Hunt can use his hips to explode and time a big shot right as Junior tries to tag him. We’ve seen Junior take big shots before; he took a monstrous left hook from Shane Carwin and a big right hand plus a whole rounds’ worth of punishment from Cain Velasquez. I think it’s a safe assessment to say that dos Santos has an iron chin. But unfortunately, no one hits harder than Mark Hunt.

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My personal prediction can go two ways. I think we’ll either see a more fluid dos Santos take a decision as he sticks and moves for 15 minutes; tiring Hunt out, tagging him with jabs, and avoiding power shots. Or we’ll see dos Santos’ lack in footwork cost him as Hunt explodes on him in the first or second round and put him away for the first time in his career. Those are my thoughts and analysis on this exciting heavyweight match up scheduled for UFC 160. Thanks for reading!

-Hodgi