Former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos was on a three-fight win streak prior to his headliner fight against Francis Ngannou in June. That all ended when he was knocked out by “The Predator” in under two minutes of action.
In a recent interview with MMA Fighting, “Cigano” looked back at the crucial mistakes he made that led to the fourth knockout loss of his career.
“Man, look, I was fighting against a big guy, everybody is talking about the power of Ngannou,” Dos Santos said (transcript by BJPenn.com). “I knew he had a lot of power, but at the beginning of the fight, I felt so good. He kicked me twice, I blocked the kicks twice. I kicked him twice again — one of the kicks he went down, the other one he fell.
Then I punched him on the body and his eyes were kind of open. My strategy wasn’t to try to knock him out at the beginning, it was to move a lot and throw a lot of punches and make him follow me, make it a longer fight.
“But then I felt so good, and I saw him start putting his arms down, and I said ‘oh my gosh, this is my time,’” he explained. “And I threw that overhand right, and that was the biggest mistake.”
For Dos Santos, the loss was more because he deviated from the game plan, more than anything else.
“That wasn’t part of the strategy,” he said. “That exposed me to his punches. He has a long reach, everybody knows that. I put all my power on that overhand right, and once I finished the punch, he connected a little punch right on my ear. I should have come back from the punch, gone backwards, but I couldn’t. I gave my back to him, and he kept punching, and he won the fight.
“I’m not taking anything away from him, but it was a lucky punch,” he continued. “When I say lucky, there’s a big mistake in the fight world. Sometimes you say a guy won because he’s lucky. It doesn’t mean nothing bad.
“Being lucky means that you’re taking some [action], you’re doing something positive, then luck can reach you, can find you. So being lucky is something important, something good for you.”
Dos Santos has yet to book his next fight, but he did do well in his recent appearance on Brazil’s Dancing With the Stars.