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UFC 117: Is Junior dos Santos More Like Dan Hardy or BJ Penn?


At UFC 121 in October, we are most likely going to see Junior dos Santos sitting cageside as UFC Heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez square off for the title.  Regardless of who wins, JDS is going to have to face an elite wrestler when he gets his chance to become the next UFC Heavyweight champ.  This will be the first time in dos Santos's young career that he will be matched up against an opponent whose number one strength is wrestling.  So the question has to be asked, is Junior dos Santos more like Dan Hardy or BJ Penn?

UFC Welterweight Dan Hardy is probably one of the best strikers in his weight class, yet, as George St-Pierre proved at UFC 111, Hardy's take down defense is non-existent.  BJ Penn, on the other hand, is a fantastic striker like Hardy but is also known for being a gyroscope.  Unless your name is GSP, Penn is extremely hard to take down and keep down. However, it is really hard to figure out which fighter JDS is more like since we have never really seen him fight a high level wrestler.

If you are going off of JDS's past fights, one would make the assumption that his take down defense is pretty good.  In his fight this past weekend at UFC 117, Roy Nelson tried valiantly to get JDS on his back on multiple occasions, but couldn't over the course of three rounds.  Dos Santos was able to stuff all of Nelson's take down attempts to keep the fight standing up where he battered Nelson for fifteen minutes with his superior boxing.  Still, Nelson's wrestling isn't even close to being on the same level as Lesnar and Velasquez, so you really can't use that as a measuring stick when it comes to JDS fighting either man.

Another thing you have to consider is where JDS trains, Team Black House.  While Team Black House may have the best BBJ practitioners in all of MMA, their take down defense as a whole is less than stellar.  As we saw this past weekend, Anderson Silva was taken and held down for Chael Sonnen for almost twenty five minutes.  Lil' Nog's take down defense or lack thereof against Jason Brilz at UFC 114 almost cost him that fight.  Big Nog has been put on his back quite often throughout his illustrious career.  In fact, the fighter with the best takedown defense at Team Black House is probably Featherweight champ Jose Aldo, but that probably won't help JDS that much.  Also, the only member of Team Black House that has an extensive wrestling background is Mark Munoz, but he definitely won't be able to replicate the size and strength of either Cain or Brock. 

Over the next few months, two things are going to happen, 1) We will find out if JDS is going to face Brock or Cain and 2) many questions are going to be asked about whether JDS can keep the fight standing up long enough to get the KO victory to become the next UFC Heavyweight champ.  I am more inclined to believe that JDS is more like Dan Hardy than BJ Penn, but I am probably going to have to wait till 2011 to get the answer to that question.

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