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Sunday, June 12, 2011
Dos Santos still second in White's eyes

By Brett Okamoto
ESPN.com

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- As impressive as Junior dos Santos has been throughout his career -- and again in Saturday's dominant performance against Shane Carwin at UFC 131 in Vancouver -- he's still second in class in the opinion of Dana White.

The UFC president praised dos Santos for his unanimous decision win and said there is no question he is the undisputed No. 1 heavyweight contender.

But from what White saw in Vancouver, he's still got some catching up to do on Cain Velasquez.

"You know what I think?" said White, at the postfight news conference. "I think he's going to have to get a lot more well-rounded. He said he's going to work on his boxing. Dude, you better start working on your kicks and your punches.

"Cain Velasquez -- he's got cardio for days. He keeps coming forward and he does not stop until he finishes you. I'm not [dos Santos'] coach, but I'd have him work on a lot more than his boxing to get ready for this fight."

Make no mistake, White is a dos Santos fan. The Brazilian fighter was a likeable character on the recent season of "The Ultimate Fighter" and he's clearly committed to being a marketable star.

Within the past 12 months, dos Santos has picked up the English language without taking a single class. He listened to the dialect and asked his bilingual friends to translate. That's all it took.

Cain Velasquez
Dana White feels Cain Velasquez, top, is in another league than Junior dos Santos.

"One of the things he's done that's impressed me the most is learn English," White said. "He's doing all the right things. He's trying hard to be the next champion."

It's nearly impossible not to like what dos Santos does in the cage -- with the victory over Carwin serving as a prime example.

Dos Santos (13-1) came into the fight having never fought an elite-level wrestler. He showed he was up to the task against Carwin, an NCAA Division II wrestling champion, defending takedowns and actually converting two of his own.

"I have a ground game," dos Santos said. "I train with good guys who are good in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Of course, I'm not like Demian Maia, but I'm tough."

The fight was compelling in the sense that Carwin is known for his one-punch power, but it never seemed out of dos Santos' control.

It came extremely close to being stopped in the first round, when dos Santos landed a clean straight right. He followed it up with a barrage of unanswered punches on Carwin against the fence and even turned to referee Herb Dean to demand the fight be stopped.

Dos Santos
Junior dos Santos has come a long way, but there's still work to be done before he challenges Cain Velasquez.

Afterward, White praised Dean's decision to allow the fight to continue, but added that, in the end, the unanimous decision was just as decisive a result.

"I think three rounds was good for this one," White said when asked if he would have liked to have seen a fourth and fifth round. "Carwin showed a lot of heart tonight but he had enough punishment."

So, why the concern over dos Santos' chances against Velasquez?

In the past, he's seemed slightly one-dimensional but showed flashes of his other skills in the Carwin fight. He double-legged him in the third round. He landed a high head kick in the second. His chin held up to the few decent shots Carwin did land.

If anything, White's comments are likely based more on how good Velasquez is than on any glaring aspects of the game dos Santos has overlooked.

When that fight happens, likely within five to six months, White just hopes dos Santos knows what he's going against.

"He's going to have his hands full," White said. "All these guys he's been beating have been fighting him early and then he gets to lay back. He's not going to be able to sit back [against Velasquez]. It's going to be five rounds with Velasquez and he'll be in his face every minute."

Brett Okamoto covers MMA for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at bokamotoESPN.