UFC Wichita: Saturday was a good night to be a dos Santos

Brazilian namesakes claimed impressive stoppage wins on a fun night of fights in Kansas…


It seems bizarre to suggest that one of the most devastating power punchers in the UFC also happens to be one of the nicest guys you’ll meet in any sport, but that’s genuinely the case with Junior dos Santos.

The happy-go-lucky former UFC heavyweight champion of the world manages to flip a switch when its time to do work inside the Octagon, does scary things, then returns to his jovial, smiling self immediately after.

It’s made the amiable Brazilian one of the most popular heavyweights in the UFC, and he had the crowd smiling on Saturday night at UFC Wichita as he finished fellow KO king Derrick Lewis in the second round, then used his post-fight interview to sing “Happy Birthday” to his two-year-old son, Bento.

If anybody else had tried that, it would have come off as cringey and unwatchable. But because it was ‘Cigano’, it just felt right.

It was a lovely feel-good way to end a fun main card in Kansas. Here’s a quick rundown of the key happenings…


Lewis’ last fight prior to this weekend’s fight with dos Santos was a title fight against Daniel Cormier last November, where he was submitted mid-way through the second round.

In Wichita, dos Santos also defeated Lewis in the second round, but he managed to close the show even faster than the current heavyweight world champ, thanks to a huge straight right and a flurry of ground strikes.

As well as showcasing a sound mental approach and some clinical finishing skills, dos Santos also proved he still has a granite chin, as referenced by the huge right hand he took after he hurt Lewis to the body. Lewis doubled over, seemingly close to being finished, and as JDS moved in, ‘The Black Beast’ unleashed a huge right hand that connected clean.

Incredibly, dos Santos took it like a champ, then came back to finish his man in the next round.

WHO’S NEXT? A clash with Francis Ngannou seems like a no-brainer to me, but a trilogy fight with Stipe Miocic also seems to make a lot of sense.

Both men hold a win over the other, and with a shot at the heavyweight title likely to be up for grabs for the winner, that’s a fight that could easily headline a big ESPN show, or maybe even a fight card over here in Europe.


It was a good night for fighters called dos Santos, as Junior’s welterweight namesake, Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, put on a hugely impressive performance to submit rising prospect Curtis Millender via first-round rear-naked choke.

Zaleski dos Santos is a dangerous contender floating around in the shark tank that is the UFC welterweight division, but he’s a man with virtually no name recognition in a division filled with star names.

But with a 21-5 record and a seven-fight win streak – including three hugely-impressive finishes in his last three outings – the time has come for ‘Capoeira’ to be given a big-name opponent.

WHO’S NEXT? He was already ranked 14th heading into the contest, and looking up the list, I think it’s time he was given one of the division’s big guns. Santiago Ponzinibbio would represent an interesting test, but my pick would be former world champ Robbie Lawler.

With Ben Askren showing little interest in a rematch after his much-debated submission win over Lawler at UFC 235 a week ago, maybe pitching Lawler against Zaleski dos Santos could work for all parties.

The Brazilian is the sort of fighter who offers little upside for fighters choosing whether or not to accept a fight, but Lawler has never been a man to pick and choose his opponents. Book it for International Fight Week in July.


American welterweight Niko ‘The Hydrid’ Price has collected Performance of the Night bonus cheques in three of his last six UFC fights, and there’s not hard to see why.

The always-exciting 170-pounder is rarely, if ever, in a boring fight, and his thrilling performances often bring the best out of his opponents, too.

In Wichita it looked like he was on his way to being stopped by a brilliant Tim Means performance. But just as ‘The Dirty Bird’ had backed Price against the cage fence and started to move in for the coup de grace, Price struck.

A huge right hand connected flush on the advancing Means, sending him crashing to the canvas as Price claimed an incredible come-from-behind knockout win. The victory was all the more impressive when you consider Means had never been knocked out in any of his previous 40 professional MMA contests.

It earned Price a cool $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus, took his record to 13-2 (1 no contest) and put him in the frame for an exciting summer return, potentially against one of the division’s bigger names.

WHO’S NEXT? Price’s fighting style means you could throw him in there with just about anyone you can think of and you’ll get a barnburner of a matchup.

But one name who was mentioned by a media colleague of mine was that of Carlos Condit. The former interim welterweight champion may be in the final stages of his UFC career, but he always brings the fire, and a matchup between ‘The Natural Born Killer’ and ‘The Hybrid’ would make for fireworks galore.

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