Road to the TitleEdit
Dos Santos most recently faced Roy Nelson in a number-one contender matchup and won via unanimous decision for the first time in his career.
With the win, he earned a title shot against the winner of the fight between champion Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez. Velasquez won and Dos Santos was set to make a run at the heavyweight title versus Cain.
The fight was delayed before even being officially announced for a venue, for about six to eight months after Velasquez suffered a shoulder injury.
Dos Santos next coached the thirteenth season of TUF versus former champion Brock Lesnar. He was set to fight Lesnar at the end to decide who faced Velasquez for the belt.
A month before the bout, Lesnar pulled out after a resurgence of his diverticulitis. He was replaced by heavy-handed Shane Carwin. Dos Santos defeated Carwin via unanimous decision to secure the title shot against Velasquez once more. It was a significant moral victory for Dos Santos that the fight was the first decision of Carwin's career. Dos Santos once again lent the strength of truth to claims by fans that his standup was dominant and his chin was made of granite.
Dos Santos next faced Cain Velasquez finally for the UFC heavyweight title, handing Velasquez his first loss via knockout just over a minute into their much-anticipated bout. In the process, Dos Santos achieved his dream of becoming the UFC heavyweight champion of the world.
Defending the BeltEdit
Dos Santos was itching to defend his belt soon afterwards. Former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem defeated Brock Lesnar at UFC 141, ending 2011 impressively to earn a shot at Dos Santos's title. A month or so before the fight, however, Overeem tested positive for steroids and was pulled from the fight. Former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir stepped in as his replacement.
Dos Santos had no trouble picking apart the jiu jitsu specialist en route to a second round technical knockout victory in his first title defense. After the victory, Dos Santos signed to defend his belt for the second time against rival Cain Velasquez at the UFC's year-end event in December 2012.
Velasquez dominated Dos Santos completely en route to a five-round unanimous decision, handing Dos Santos his first UFC loss as well as ripping the UFC heavyweight championship from his grasp. Dos Santos gave no excuses, saying that Velasquez had been the better man and he hoped for a rubber match for the title sooner rather than later.
After the TitleEditRumors quickly sprouted up about Dos Santos facing the winner of the fight between Alistair Overeem and Antonio Silva for the next shot at Velasquez's title. After Silva knocked Overeem out, Dos Santos still signed to face Overeem for a shot at the winner of the title rematch between Velasquez and Silva. Overeem was soon injured and replaced by Pride veteran Mark Hunt. Dos Santos stood with the kickboxing champion Hunt before knocking him out in the third round with a spinning heel kick.
The awe-inspiring victory over Hunt earned Dos Santos a rubber match for the UFC heavyweight title against his nemesis, the champion Cain Velasquez. The two went to war for four and a half rounds with Velasquez dictating the pace and dominating Dos Santos against the cage between heated exchanges inside the clinch. In the fifth round Dos Santos faceplanted on the canvas after going for a guillotine and Velasquez pounced on the dazed and exhausted Dos Santos to hand him his first stoppage loss and defend his title for the second time.
During his recovery Dos Santos publicly stated his consideration to drop down to the light-heavyweight division of the UFC.
Instead Dos Santos next signed to fight Stipe Miocic. He was unfortunately injured shortly before the fight with a broken hand.
The fight was rescheduled and Dos Santos finally fought Miocic; the two went to war with Dos Santos pulling out a gutsy unanimous decision victory despite having his own face bloodied to match Miocic's.
Dos Santos next signed for a long-anticipated fight with former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem. Overeem knocked out Dos Santos towards the end of the second round.
Dos Santos then fought Ben Rothwell winning via a measured and impressive unanimous decision, possibly signaling a return to form. After the victory Dos Santos battled injuries.
After recovering Dos Santos finally signed to fight a rematch with Stefan Struve.
- Junior Dos Santos vs. Joaquim Ferreira 2 - The fight was the first defeat for Dos Santos and his only defeat thus far.
- Fabricio Werdum vs. Junior Dos Santos - The fight was Dos Santos's UFC debut and after the fight, Fabricio Werdum was cut from the UFC.
- Junior Dos Santos vs. Stefan Struve - The fight was the UFC debut of Stefan Struve.
- Mirko Filipovic vs. Junior Dos Santos
- Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Junior Dos Santos
- Junior Dos Santos vs. Roy Nelson - The fight was to decide the newest number-one contender for the heavyweight title. The fight was the first time that Dos Santos had gone to decision.
- Junior Dos Santos vs. Shane Carwin - Shane Carwin was a late replacement for a severely ill Brock Lesnar. Carwin suffered a fractured nose in the bout.
- Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos 2 - The fight was for the UFC heavyweight championship with Dos Santos defending. It was Dos Santos's first UFC loss.
- Junior Dos Santos vs. Stipe Miocic
- Junior Dos Santos vs. Ben Rothwell