Dos Santos carries confidence into fight
I’ve been the UFC’s No. 1 heavyweight contender since I defeated Roy Nelson in August 2010. However, I get my title shot this Saturday, 15 months later, because the champion, Cain Velasquez, had to take a year out when he hurt his shoulder winning the belt last October.
I didn’t want to wait for Cain to heal, so I have fought to keep busy and sharp. I’m a fighter. I don’t want to wait for over a year to fight. I want to fight. I think to be the champion you have to be willing to fight and be able to beat any opponent, and I am.
And I don’t feel upset I had to wait. Things worked out so well, and I am honored that my fight with Cain has been chosen by the UFC to headline the first-ever UFC on FOX show. I feel very lucky. It’s a huge step for the sport of mixed martial arts, and a huge milestone for the UFC to be on network TV in the USA.
A lot of work from a lot of people went into building this partnership, and I am honored that they have included me in its debut.
It feels great, it’s been a long time coming and I really believe this is my moment. It’s the realization of a dream I had as a teenager and I am ready.
A lot of people will turn into their first UFC fight on FOX. They should know that every time I step inside the octagon, I am looking for the knockout. I like to fight standing, and I like to knock guys out.
Some people say I am the hardest puncher in the UFC’s history. I probably am. I really believe in my hands. As far as I know, I’m the only UFC fighter who trains primarily in a boxing gym. I train among Brazilian Olympic boxers at a very high level, and I know how to get in the right punches.
I come from a tough background. I had to work as a child and I believe everything in my background gave me the strength to be where I am today. I grew up in an extremely humble family, in a small city and there weren’t many opportunities. I left home to create a better life. I didn’t start training in martial arts until I was 21 years old. I lacked direction, and I joined a gym where I was introduced to jiu jitsu. It became pretty clear right away I had a knack for it, and my instructor, Iuri Carlton, encouraged me to try mixed martial arts. He took me to a boxing class taught by Luiz Dorea, and it’s been an intense, amazing journey since.
I truly believe Cain is the best heavyweight in the world. I also believe I will beat him. I am not sure if he’ll be 100 percent after 15 months away and shoulder surgery. Some people believe in "ring rust," and some people don’t.
I had a big delay between my fight against Roy Nelson and my fight against Shane Carwin in May. It made me eager to get back in the octagon, but I didn’t feel rusty. I think the key is to always be training, always be ready for a fight. I only stop my training for a few days after a big fight, then I get right back into it — even if my next fight isn’t on the horizon yet.
Even if he is rusty, I think Cain is fully recovered, and I don’t think he would take a fight if he weren’t ready. I imagine he’s hungry to get back inside that octagon.
I think he’ll be fully confident. If I were him, I wouldn’t be worried about the 15 months off at all.
With how I have my training, it wouldn’t be an issue for me. My motto is, "Train hard so you can fight easy." For me, fights are nothing compared to how hard I train, even five-round fights like we will be fighting on Saturday. My sparring sessions go more rounds than that, and I substitute in fresh partners. I know that if I accept a fight, I will arrive at the octagon ready to go, recovered from anything that may have hindered me and able to give 100 percent.
When I walk into the octagon Nov. 12, I want to face Cain Velasquez at his best. I don’t want to beat a watered-down Cain Velasquez; I want to show that I am the No. 1 heavyweight. I can only do that if I get the real Cain Velasquez — the fast, crazy good, deserving reigning champion.
Some people have said it was 1985 when the last boxing heavyweight title fight was on network TV in the USA. I love boxing, but I think MMA is the sport of future.
For more information on Junior, visit his website www.juniordossantos.com.BR and speak with him on Twitter @junior_cigano