The first fight of Junior dos Santos’ post-UFC career will be in the Triller Triad Combat boxing ring.
On Tuesday it was reported by TMZ Sports that the former UFC heavyweight champion will take on veteran boxing contender and two-time world title challenger Kubrat Pulev in early 2022. Triller officials later confirmed the news to MMA Junkie.
Dos Santos (21-9) ended his time in the UFC on a four-fight losing streak, getting stopped by Francis Ngannou, Curtis Blaydes, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, and lastly Ciryl Gane. At his peak he won the heavyweight title by knocking out Cain Velasquez on the first UFC on FOX show in 2011, defending the belt successfully against Frank Mir before losing it to Cain in the rematch.
Pulev (28-2) hasn’t had an actual boxing match since losing by knockout to Anthony Joshua in December 2020. His only other pro boxing defeat was to Wladimir Klitschko way back in 2014. He ventured into the Triller Triad Combat ring last month in Texas, easily defeating Frank Mir in the opening round of the pay-per-view main event.
I suppose unlike the completely unjustifiable Pulev vs. Frank Mir fight, dos Santos is actually a striker first and foremost and has often won his MMA fights through his boxing. In his heyday, dos Santos claimed he would KO Wladimir Klitschko in a boxing match. But the good times are seemingly over and he has been knocked out a lot. We’ll see if he can use the smaller triangular ring, availability of spinning backfists, and legalized punching in the clinch to help “level the playing field” as has been the marketing line for Triller Triad Combat.
Oh yeah, and on that same card TMZ also reported that Vitor Belfort will take on Chad Dawson, who’s a solid decade past his prime. Good stuff.