Former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos defeated #4 ranked contender Stipe Miocic in bloody five round war at the U.S. Airways Arena in Phoenix, Arizona on Saturday night.

A Brutal War

Many people weren’t expecting the fight to go the distance, especially after these two heavy hitters have a combined 20 knockouts in 29 victories. But after Dos Santos survived Miocic’s initial salvo and Miocic proved that he could take Junior’s best punches, the bout was headed the distance and ended up as a brutal war.

Miocic opened the fight looking to keep Dos Santos off-balance by forcing him against  the fence and tagging him with several hard punches as the ex-champ was backing off. The Ohio born Croatian also outboxed Dos Santos at the center of the cage in the opening two rounds of the bout. Miocic’s punching was so effective that he not only had Junior in trouble a couple of times, but he already had his face bloodied and blue as the third round was about to start.

Heart of a Champion

But Dos Santos showed the heart of a champion as he continued to fight on despite his reconfigured face. Miocic continued to tag Dos Santos with solid right hooks but Junior pressed on with his steady diet of body punches that would eventually slow Miocic down. At the halfway mark of the third round, a bloodied Dos Santos connected on a left hook that dropped Miocic. Junior went in for the kill, but Miocic also showed toughness as he was able to return back to his feet. But although the knockdown didn’t end the fight, it gave Dos Santos the confidence to pick up his pace.

With Miocic slowing down after the knockdown, Dos Santos started to find his boxing rhythm in the fourth round. The Brazilian knockout artist continued to tag his opponent with heavy bombs that started to bloody Miocic’s mouth. Dos Santos even grew more confident as he even connected on a leg sweep that put Miocic on his back. But Miocic was tough as he continued to move forward in the fifth round, although it was obvious now that Dos Santos was landing more blows and looked lighter on his feet. The crowd was on its feet in the final ten seconds, appreciating a special war between two top heavyweights in front of them.  As the bell sounded, both men embraced with their faces covered in blood.

Back and Forth Affair

Dos Santos won by the scores of 49-46, 49-46 and 48-47, but the two scorecards were not indicative of how close the fight really was. It was a back and forth affair that saw both men get hurt a couple of times during the bout. Miocic had a very good start, but it was that left hand from Dos Santos in the third round that changed the complexion of the fight.

Before Dos Santos connected with that monster punch, he was already investing in body punches which also contributed to slowing down Miocic late in the fight. Junior landed 45 body shots while Miocic only had 8. Miocic had never gone to the fifth round before this one while Dos Santos was in two five round wars with Cain Velasquez so the experience also paid off for Junior who finished strong in order to seal the win. Fight stats had Dos Santos outlanding Miocic 140-104 in total strikes landed.