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Junior dos Santos ‘didn’t follow strategy’ at UFC 252: ‘I’m going through a weird moment’

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Former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos was left confused after his knockout loss to Jairzinho Rozenstruik.

Former UFC heayvweight champion Junior dos Santos is going through the worst stretch of his professional MMA career. After his knockout loss to Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC 252, ‘Cigano’ finds himself on a three-fight skid for the first time in a 29-fight resume. In fact, before 2020, JDS had never lost back-to-back bouts.

The Rozenstruik loss came right after TKO losses to both Francis Ngannou and Curtis Blaydes, putting Junior in a difficult spot regarding his next move. In an interview with MMA Fighting, Cigano admits to not following the gameplan his team came up with for him, but did not expect things to go awry so quickly.

“We know a fight is a fight and everything is possible, but I was feeling great, one of the best shapes I’ve ever had,” dos Santos said. “There’s always that pre-fight tension, but I was very confident. And maybe I didn’t follow the strategy, which was to vary my attacks instead of doing what I do best, which is my boxing.

“I found the distance, I was seeing everything clearly, everything was going well, and all of a sudden… It’s that heavyweight thing, especially against Jairzinho, who hits really hard, one of his punches grazed and you go out for a brief moment and that’s enough to take you out of your game and your opponent uses that to finish the fight. I was doing really well and it was unfortunate that I lost.”

Furthermore, it seems the consecutive losses have been affecting Cigano mentally, as well. In the same interview, JDS admitted that he is going through a rough patch, in which things are just not going his way. Junior claims to be trying to fix those mistakes, but it is turning out to be harder than anticipated.

“A difficult moment. I’m going through a weird moment where it’s very difficult for things to go right,” dos Santos said. “We have to evolve. Sometimes we can’t even understand what needs to be changed or not. Regardless of that, man, it’s obvious that we’re analyzing my reaction to his movements in there, but it’s hard to come to a simple answer, you know? I really call it a bad phase.

“We obviously have to learn and try to absorb as much as we can to get better for the fight. And maybe we need to work more on not giving openings to our opponents, you know? Follow the plan we had instead of letting the fight go, using more kicks, boxing, wrestling and even jiu-jitsu.”

“It really bothers me because it’s the third consecutive loss,” dos Santos said. “I know what I’m capable of and I know my skills, I see myself in great shape both technically and physically as an athlete, and not having positive results makes no sense.”

On his personal Instagram page, Junior sent a message to his fans, thanking them for all the support and apologizing for the loss. In the video, an emotional Cigano talked about the unpredictability of the fight game and that he will take some time off to think about his next step.

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“Hey you all, I’m still sitting here at my hotel room, and thinking about the fight, of course,” dos Santos said in an Instagram video. “But I just would like to thank all you guys for your support, your messages, for your positive energy that you guys are always sending to me. It’s a very important part of the game and I’m very happy to count with you guys, you know? For your support. Thank you.

“And unfortunately we weren’t able to get the result we were expecting for, but I was feeling great,” he continued. “I was feeling ready to win. But the fighting is like those surprise boxes, you know? Sometimes you get a negatively surprised by something and that’s what happened to me on the fight. I got caught and my opponent took the moment to finish the fight. Now it’s time to wait for the dust to settle and then ... think about the next step. Thank you.”

Before losing to Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Junior dos Santos (21-8) suffered TKO losses to both Ngannou and Blaydes, respectively in June 2019 and January of this year. The 36-year-old’s last win came in March 2019, when he TKO’d contender Derrick Lewis in the final victory of a three-fight win streak that also included wins over Tai Tuivasa and Blagoy Ivanov.