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Opening Round: The Dos Santos Dilemma

As you almost certainly already know if you’re reading these lines, this Friday night Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem throw down at UFC 141 to determine the top contender in the UFC’s heavyweight division. The winner will then obviously go on to face champion Junior dos Santos at some point in 2012.

Though Dos Santos is undoubtedly up for any challenge and would probably never admit to it publicly, chances are he likely has a favorite in the fight. After all, while “Cigano” is a competitor at heart the 27-year old also has a vested interest in retaining his title and has to see one of the two UFC 141 headliners as a better match-up for him in that regard.

In Overeem the young Brazilian is looking at a polished pugilist who has knockout power in all four of his limbs. The reigning K-1 World Grand Prix king may not be on Dos Santos’ level as a boxer – few heavyweights are if any – but he more than makes up for the deficiency with a variety of strikes the affable champion doesn’t possess in his bag of tricks. If there’s one man in the division who can match Dos Santos on his feet it is Overeem, not to mention he’s an underrated grappler who has more submissions than TKOs, a fact possibly surprising some fans who consider him as a fighter who paints the cage’s canvas purely with stand-up.

In Lesnar “Cigano” has an incredibly strong grappler with wicked takedowns who can be absolutely devastating once he’s in top position. The 5-2 former WWE superstar has dealt with power and precision before, plus the momentum of a victory over someone like Overeem would certainly help his confidence in terms of taking out superior strikers.

So who is JDS likely to fare better against? I’d say Lesnar for a few reasons. He’s shown an over-reliance on wrestling, understandable to a degree considering his background and relative inexperience, and he is vulnerable if an opponent can deal with his double-legs/clinch-work. Dos Santos has also scouted Lesnar already based on their TUF 13 coaching stints. Finally, let’s face it – Brock is 34 and has dealt with some serious health issues. He’s in great shape but is at a point where age might start being a factor while in comparison Overeem is only 31.

That being said, even if he’s a more difficult draw from a stylistic standpoint I’d still wager Dos Santos wants to see Overeem come away with the victory. I don’t think it’s a matter of him being a glutton for punishment but rather my feeling he enjoys the idea of seeing how his stand-up compares against someone with the Dutchman’s credentials. Sure, he wants to remain champion, but he also believes enough in himself to think he can beat any adversary. Fortunately, on December 30 an actual fight will remove subjectivity from the scenario with fists and fate determining a clear cut contender who, regardless of name, no doubt he will be game come title-time.

What do you think about the subject on today’s “Opening Round”? Tell us on our Twitter account (@mmatraining)!

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