UFC 146 Results: Can Junior Dos Santos Become the Next Huge UFC Star?

Alexander MetalisContributor IIIMay 27, 2012

HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 20:  UFC Fighter Junior dos Santos speaks during the UFC on Fox: Velasquez v Dos Santos - Press Conference at W Hollywood on September 20, 2011 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

Does anything about Junior dos Santos remind you of Brock Lesnar?

No. Junior’s better, but the placid Brazilian will never garner as many pay-per-view buys as the enigmatic Viking would. Brock, in contrast to Junior, was loud and brazen under the spotlight.

That doesn’t mean, however, that Junior can’t eek out a shining star of his own—he’ll have to rely less on gimmick than Brock and more on violent pugilism.

If Junior continues to exhilarate fans with his blood-seeking punches, his star power will continue to grow. Casual fight fans are often repelled by grappling matches, and, to Junior’s favor, he’s repelled by them too.

Junior shuts down grapplers. He negates takedown attempts—making strong attempts seem weak—and then he flattens those who try to ground him. So JDS caters to the hordes of “just bleed” fans on the periphery of MMA fandom, consumers who certainly inflate Junior’s star power.

One thing holding Junior back is his meager English skills. His thoughts and personality aren’t expressed with enough nuances for American fans to deeply understand Junior’s ethos. When he does speak, Junior’s proclamations are meek and benign. Usually Junior strays far from stirring newsworthy sound bytes.

Traditionally, the shiniest stars are polarizing, enigmatic, cocky or showboats. Dos Santos is none of these. However, I think people are beginning to appreciate Junior for the mild-mannered teddy bear he is.

With his destruction of Frank Mir fresh in mind, it appears as if Junior may reign supreme over the heavies for a while. Despite his mild manners, JDS’s thrilling, visceral style should keep his fandom strong.

If it turns out that dos Santos is too quiet to command the spotlight, and attention is something he yearns, he’ll have to contrive a persona to attract attention. I think Junior will be content regardless.