Junior dos Santos on Brock Lesnar, Daniel Cormier, UFC Boisie and his future


WHEN the fellas in the cage are giants, chaos reigns.

For the longest time, the UFC’s heavyweight division has been a land of big fellas, hard hits and unrelenting anarchy.

Stipe Miocic was the most decorated champion in the division’s history after totalling three title defences until he got his face smashed in by Daniel Cormier, who was cruising up from light-heavyweight to get a first hand look at the chaos.

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In the afterglow of Cormier’s victory, Brock Lesnar was called into the cage for some pro wrestling theatrics. Cormier taunted him, Lesnar screamed back, the word f**k was used as a noun, verb and adjective and the stage was set for Lesnar to waltz back in and fight for the title, six years since his last legitimate victory. And Junior dos Santos looked on, puzzled.

“To tell you the truth, I wasn’t understanding it,” dos Santos told The Daily Telegraph.

“When Cormier won that belt, the heavyweight belt and the two division champion was calling out, was inviting, Brock Lesnar to come inside the Octagon in the most special moment of his career probably.

“He was inviting Brock Lesnar into the Octagon and it didn’t make any sense to me.

“But then I understand, he was speaking at the press conference and he was saying it’s all about money.

“Brock Lesnar is a guy people want to see. I think right now he wants an easy fight and make a lot of money. He is a smart champion.”

Dos Santos is at once part of the heavyweight chaos and removed from it. He’s spent over a year outside the cage and hasn’t won back to back fights since six years, but is still in the title picture.

He’s 34 but still middle aged in a division traditionally populated by men pushing 40. He’s a two-time champion who hasn’t held the belt since 2012.

“The division is living a different moment, an interesting moment. When you become a champion you become a target, so now the target is Daniel Cormier.

“Not just for me, but for the whole division. It is a new moment for the division, and an interesting one.”

While the belt, and Cormier, are tied up with a fight that doesn’t make any sense but is sure to make plenty of dollars, dos Santos will take on Blagoy Ivanov on Sunday (AEST) in Idaho.

Ivanov is a former World Series of Fighting champion and will be making his promotional debut.

Along with Curtis Blaydes, Derrick Lewis, Alexander Volkov and Australia’s own Tai Tuivasa, the Bulgarian is part of a newer class of heavyweight.

Most of the men dos Santos has tangled with in the past are either going or gone. Mark Hunt is ageless, but at 44 the end must be near. Cain Velasquez is still injured and hope is fading that he’ll ever return.

Ben Rothwell, Antonio Silva and Frank Mir are washed up and out of the big leagues while Alistair Overeem’s time in the sun seems over after two horrible knockout losses in a row.

And yet, dos Santos is still here. He’s seasoned enough to be the old man for these younger bucks but young enough to have been booked to fight Lesnar during the WWE star’s last real run with proper fighting. He feels a win over Ivanov will be enough to put him in touching distance of the title again, even as it’s preoccupied with Cormier and Lesnar.

“We have some new guys coming up to the highest level. I think it’s good to have some new guys up there, giving us extra work,” dos Santos said.

“The heavyweight division is getting even better now with these new and up and coming guys. I can see a good future for the whole division.

Dos Santos had some particular praise for Tuivasa, who is unbeaten in his professional career and recently cracked the top 10 of the division for the first time.

“He’s a very tough guy and it’s great for the division to have guys like him fighting and competing because people are here for it.

“They’re here to see good fights, and tough guys like him give people good fights.”

For dos Santos to win the belt again he’d need to make his own bit of history — only one other UFC fighter has won a championship three times and, you guessed it, it was at heavyweight.

With a farce about to consume his division and the young guns on his heels, dos Santos believes he can only do what he’s always done and, perhaps, he can then get what he’s always got.

“When Junior dos Santos is fighting people know it’s going to be a good fight, a tough fight.

“They can expect a knockout and that’s what I’m coming for.

“I hope Boise and the whole world are ready for that.”



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