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Former heavyweight champ reveals ‘really unprofessional’ UFC negotiations for his last two fights

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Junior Dos Santos talks about the “unprofessional” treatment he received from the UFC towards the end of his run.

Junior Dos Santos right after his knockout loss to Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC 252 last August.
Junior Dos Santos right after his knockout loss to Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC 252 last August.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

In March, former UFC champion Junior Dos Santos was unceremoniously released from the company. At the time, he was ranked number 12 at heavyweight but was also on a four-fight skid.

Initially, the reported reason for Dos Santos’ release was because he supposedly turned down a short-notice fight at UFC 260. And now that he’s no longer under contract, “Cigano” is revealing more details surrounding his last two fights with the company.

As he recently stated on MMA Fighting.com’s Trocação Franca podcast, the 37-year-old Dos Santos essentially revealed that he was coerced into agreeing to fight Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Ciryl Gane, respectively. At the time of his release, he still had five fights left in his contract.

“They were really unprofessional, let’s put it this way, with the way they treated [me] like they [treat] everybody else. I wasn’t the first and won’t be the last. The last two fights I got were on those terms, ‘You take it or you’re out,’” he said.

Dos Santos went on to further divulge some details about how UFC contracts work behind the scenes.

“That’s what happens in the UFC and these promotions. That locks up the athletes, [losing] great possibilities to negotiate, and they do what they want. The UFC has the safety to keep you locked for eight fights,” he explained.

“Now, you lose the first one and they can let you go if they want, there’s no safety [for the athlete]. It’s different in boxing, you negotiate fight after fight, contracts, and pay.

“My case in the UFC, for example, I fought seven times before [fighting for] the belt. I was making the same amount of money stated in my contract.”

Dos Santos also shared how the entry of the Reebok deal in 2015 put a dent in his financial situation.

“The money I made to live came from my sponsors. The money I made in fights, I normally spent it all in my camps because I brought people from outside to help me and paid their costs there [in Brazil] with cars and a house,” he said.

“I gave them a good structure with my fight purses. Monthly, whatever happened, the [sponsorship] money was in my account. It was extremely important for me and, in my case, [the Reebok deal] was a big hit. It put us all on the same level.

“Even though some fighters had contracts with Reebok or Monster, it was more of a symbolic deal, it wasn’t that good.”

Dos Santos has since followed the footsteps of former rival Cain Velasquez and entered the pro-wrestling scene. He made his debut with AEW last weekend.