Junior dos Santos To Face Gabriel GonzagaThe Ultimate Fighting Championship has confirmed another impressive fight for its debut card on the Versus network. Rising heavyweight star Junior “Cigano” dos Santos will clash with former title challenger Gabriel “Napão” Gonzaga at UFC Fight Night 21 on March 21st.

The two were originally set to square off at UFC 108, but Gonzaga withdrew due to a staph infection. MMAjunkie.com is reporting that the bout will serve as the night’s co-main event and a win for dos Santos could potentially place him in line for a future title shot.

Dos Santos (10-1-0) has yet to taste defeat inside the Octagon and has totalled wins over former top contender Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum, 6’11” giant Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve, 2006 PRIDE Open Weight Grand Prix Champion Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović and, most recently, MMA bad boy Gilbert “The Hurricane” Yvel at UFC 108. Yvel had stepped in to face dos Santos after Gonzaga was forced to withdraw from the fight.

Having never gone the distance in his career and with nearly every fight ending in the first round, dos Santos has quickly emerged as one of the fastest-rising and most exciting stars in the UFC’s heavyweight division. His knockout of Werdum shocked many, but dos Santos has since proven that he is a force to be reckoned with. A victory over Gonzaga, who previously challenged for the promotion’s heavyweight title, would solidify dos Santos’s place among the elite in the division.

Gonzaga (11-4-0) has also never gone the distance in his career, but he has experienced ups and downs during his UFC tenure. His head-kick knockout of Filipović at UFC 70 will live on in highlight reels for years to come, but Gonzaga came up short in his title bid with Randy “The Natural” Couture and suffered a second loss to Werdum at UFC 80. All four of Gonzaga’s losses have come by a form of knockout.

With three wins in his last four fights, Gonzaga seems poised to make another run at title contention, but his two most recent fights have left lingering questions. A knockout loss to Shane Carwin was followed by a highly controversial victory over Chris Tuchscherer at UFC 102. Gonzaga delivered a vicious low blow to Tuchscherer early in the fight that left him vomiting and in severe pain, but Tuchscherer opted to continue and was defeated moments later. An impressive win would put Gonzaga back into contention, but he will face a tough test in dos Santos.

UFC Fight Night 21 is headlined by a light heavyweight bout between explosive strikers Jon “Bones” Jones and Brandon “The Truth” Vera. Elsewhere, John “Doomsday” Howard will battle Anthony “Rumble” Johnson in welterweight action. The event takes place on March 21st at the Odeum Colorado in Broomfield, Colorado.


(Photo Credit: Sherdog.com)