Current UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miočić is indeed the sportsbook UFC betting favorite to retain his title against Junior Dos Santos at UFC 211 May 13th at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. However, JDS is the only man to ever have defeated Miocic (Stefan Struve doesn’t count) so he certainly has the psychological advantage. And while their paths have markedly diverged since that fateful December night in 2014, the champ and the former champ have their feet taped to their bicycles on this one and they are headed for a head-on collision.
Dos Santos – who was raised by a single mother, so we’ll never know if his father’s first name was Senior – debuted in UFC with a bang. Junior scored the Knockout of the Night over Fabricio Werdum at UFC 90 on October 25, 2008. JDS would go to win his next seven consecutive fights, a winning streak that culminated in a victory over Cain Velasquez for the heavyweight championship at the very first UFC on Fox on November 12, 2011. Dos Santos would go on to defend and retain the title against Frank Mir at UFC 146 on May 26, 2012. Like James Cagney in White Heat, JDS was on top of the world. Alas, it was not to last long; if the biblical Cain was to be avenged sevenfold, Velasquez needed but one rematch to regain the belt from Dos Santos at UFC 155 on December 29, 2012.
JDS rebounded by defeating Mark Hunt but then fell to Velasquez a third and final time. And that’s about the time he first encountered the current UFC betting favorite in the octagon. The Brazilian beat the American of Croatian descent by unanimous decision UFC on Fox 13 December 13, 2014. JDS then took a sabbatical year until coming back in a losing effort to Alistair Overeem – in spite of which he is the No. 1 contender because as he told FOX Sports earlier this year, “I already beat the champion.” He added that there is “just one baddest man on the planet.” Yeah, and his name is Brock Lesnar, but that’s neither here nor there.
Meanwhile, Miocic pulled himself by the bootstraps and worked his way to the top of the division, defeating Mark Hunt and Andrei Arlovski to earn a shot at Werdum in May of last year – who had won the championship from Velasquez in the interim. Neither people who bet on UFC nor the pro-Werdum Curitiba crowd believed Miocic could pull the upset, but by gawd pull it he did. He cemented his status by defending the strap against Alistair Overeem at UFC 203 on September 10, 2016. And now all that’s left to see is whether JDS can do to Miocic what Velasquez did to him, though the UFC betting odds are not in his favour. And now for some interesting trivia that is in no way just filler: Miocic is the third fighter Dos Santos has defeated whom later proceeded to win the heavyweight title.