Standing 6’4″ and 238 pounds, dos Santos (9-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) is an exciting and rapidly rising new contender who fights like a wild Brazilian caged animal. Hungry, circling its enclosure, patiently waiting for the arrival of its next meal.
He is a kickboxing-style slugger who has been devouring his way up the ranks of the UFC heavyweight division since his first-round, crowd-thrilling knockout win over Fabricio Werdun at UFC 90 last October.
Then, for an encore, he delivered two more very impressive back-to-back ref stoppage TKO wins over Stefan Struve and the overrated former Pride FC star Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic.
His latest win was no less meaningful, another thriller, stopping Gilbert Yvel by KO only seconds into their fight.
Now ready to take the next step, dos Santos will face a fellow Brazilian native in Gonzaga (11-4 MMA, 7-3 UFC), a former UFC champion and jiu-jitsu black belt, with plenty of knockout power to boot.
This could very well be the 25-year-old dos Santos’ toughest test so far.
Gonzaga is a 30-year-old Rio de Janeiro native who was once knocked out cold by another undefeated top UFC contender named Shane Carwin at UFC 96 last March.
Noteworthy to mention that before the knockout came, Gonzaga had Carwin in all manners of trouble from throwing and connecting with double overhand rights, all of which landed cleanly.
Gonzaga has rebounded somewhat from the knockout loss to Carwin with a win in August of this year, albeit a foul-filled affair over a virtual no-name opponent in Chris Tuchscherer.
Both Gonzaga and dos Santos are Brazilian natives, but, more than just fellow countrymen, they share a common opponent, as Gonzaga also once faced the overhyped Cro Cop, knocking him out with a thrilling right leg kick to the cranium at UFC 70.
It’s this writer’s opinion and prediction that this fight will become a make-or-break fight for Gonzaga.
One man here will head toward the summit, and the other will likely become a glorified gatekeeper, a drowning once-was who will sink further into the murky waters of the UFC’s steadily deepening heavyweight pool of contenders.
Dos Santos is definitely my favorite here.
I feel that he is a much more dangerous individual; he may not have the great submission skills of Gonzaga, but he does possess the boxing ability to rock—and possibly KO—his Brazilian brother in arms, should the fight remain standing.
Gonzaga has proven in the past that he is the veritable UFC heavyweight sinking ship.
He seems to continuously enter his fights with questionable cardio and then seems to gas or tire easily, and judging from the Carwin fight he also lacks the solid knockout power needed to end fights.
However, if this fight goes to the ground, anything could happen.
Yet, even though I would give Gonzaga the edge on the mat, I’m almost certain that the fight wont make it that far.
It will most likely be a blitzkrieg-type slugfest, waged in the opening minutes, with one man eventually—at the end of the contest—finding himself on his back, staring up at the lights and wondering where he is.
Don’t dare blink, because this one could be over “fast, and furiously.”
Good luck to both men.