LAS VEGAS — Junior dos Santos is hoping to make the fight that was supposed to happen a reality.
Dos Santos had to pull out of a bout with Stipe Miocic in May due to a broken hand. Now, nearly cleared by doctors, the former UFC heavyweight champion is hoping to book a fight with Miocic, possibly at UFC 179 in October in Rio de Janeiro.
"It would be good to fight against Miocic," dos Santos told FOX Sports after visiting with kids at Sunrise Children’s Hospital as part of an International Fight Week event. "He’s really tough. He’s coming from great victories. I think this fight is very interesting for the division."
The big Brazilian is right. Miocic (12-1), who is coming off a win over fill-in Fabio Maldonado on May 31 in Sao Paulo, is ranked No. 6 among UFC heavyweights and has won three straight bouts. Dos Santos (16-3) is No. 2 in the rankings and is a proven commodity. He’s already fought champion Cain Velasquez three times, losing twice.
I can’t wait to be back and fighting again, because this is what I love to do. This is my life. I feel like I’m missing something.
-Junior dos Santos
Dos Santos, 30, lives now in Rio and trains at Nova Uniao with UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo and former bantamweight champion Renan Barao. He hasn’t done any hard striking since the hand injury, but said he feels good and believes it’s only a matter of time before doctors clear him. Dos Santos has not fought since losing to Velasquez last October.
"I can’t wait to be back and fighting again, because this is what I love to do," he said. "This is my life. I feel like I’m missing something."
In the meantime, he’s here in Las Vegas, fulfilling some press and community relations obligations for the UFC. The Sunrise Children’s Hospital was a particularly impactful experience, dos Santos said.
The gentle giant met a young girl who had 1 ½ kidneys removed. He asked her doctor if she would be OK and he said she would be with treatment, which relieved dos Santos. There was also another small girl who seemed to really enjoy hitting him, which he found hilarious. Every time she did it, she laughed.
"She punched me in the nose and she punched me in the face," dos Santos said. "And I think she liked it."
Sunrise CEO Todd Sklamberg said the UFC reached out to the hospital to initiate the event. UFC Hall of Famers Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin, champions Demetrious Johnson and T.J. Dillashaw and Octagon girl Vanessa Hanson joined dos Santos.
"What an amazing day," Sklamberg said. "You could see the faces on the kids light up. There was a child up in our pediatric oncology unit that did not want to get out of bed. When he heard UFC was coming, he was up, he was out. He had a smile on his face. And there was no medicine that could provide what the UFC did for us today."