Ex-Heavyweight Champ Says UFC Threatened Him Into Taking Fights

UFC Belt

Kelsey McCarson

According to former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos, the promotion virtually forced him into taking his last two fights.

Dos Santos (21-9) fought 23 times for the UFC and won heavyweight gold in 2011, successfully defending it once. The  37-year-old Brazilian was released from the promotion earlier this year following his fourth consecutive TKO loss.

“Cigano” was recently featured on MMA Fighting’s “Trocacao Franca” podcast and he opened up about the latter part of his UFC career.

Junior dos Santos & Ciryl Gane

GettyJunior dos Santos (L) and Ciryl Gane fighting during UFC 256 in December 2020.

“They were really unprofessional, let’s put it this way, with the way they treated [me], like they [treat] everybody else,” Dos Santos said via MMA Fighting. “I wasn’t the first and won’t be the last. The last two fights I got were on those terms, ‘You take it or you’re out.’”

The fights Cigano referred to are when he fought Ciryl Gane in December 2020 and Jairzinho Rozenstruik in August 2020. He lost to both men by second-round TKO.

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Cigano Said the UFC Treated Kindness As ‘A Weakness’

The former UFC heavyweight champion said during the podcast that he’s “always a nice guy” and believes that could have altered the way the UFC worked with him, treating his kindness as “a weakness.”

“I was always a nice guy because that’s how I like to be, I like being nice to people so people are nice to me,” Dos Santos continued. “I learned to be that way in life, to never expect from others something I don’t give them. I was always a nice guy, treating everybody well, always smiling, and in a way they took advantage of it, or treated it as a weakness, kind of putting me down, I don’t know. They tried to take the most advantage they could of the athlete I built, of Junior ‘Cigano,’ especially the way the last fight was, something really odd.

“But honestly, that’s in the past. There’s nothing I can do, so I won’t carry that with me because, like I said, that’s in the past and it can’t leave the past. I’ve done a lot of therapy and learned to deal with that in a better way. We can’t resolve some things, so they’ll stay that way, and that’s the case with this [situation]. Let’s move on. This type of situation now with pro wrestling showed how much Junior ‘Cigano’ is beloved and how much Junior ‘Cigano’ can still perform.”

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Dos Santos Wrestles for AEW, Open to Signing With an MMA Promotion But Also Wants to Box

Dos Santos is now a professional wrestler, performing under the All Elite Wrestling banner. And for combat sports, he is currently a free agent.

In the interview, Cigano said he is open to signing with another MMA promotion, however he is more interested in boxing. Dos Santos built his MMA career with his punching prowess, earning 15 wins by KO/TKO, so it’s not surprising to see JDS turn his attention to boxing.

READ NEXT: Dana White on Ex-UFC Champ Wanting Title Fight: ‘Tough Conversation’


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