Now that he is no longer legally bound to the promotion, former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos actually has a lot to share about the 12 years he spent with the company.
In an chat on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour, transcribed by Middle Easy, ‘Cigano’ detailed the events that led to his UFC release earlier this year. The way Junior tells the story, the company forced him to take a fight against Marcin Tybura just three months after getting TKO’d by Ciryl Gane, which the Brazilian was not willing to take.
As a result of the refusal, Cigano says the promotion decided to cut him loose. In his opinion, the way the biggest mixed martial arts company in the world conducts business is not too far from a dictatorship.
“Before they released me, I was in a conversation with Hunter [Campbell] before the conversation with Hunter, they offered me to get the fight with [Marcin] Tybura on [March] 27th,” dos Santos said. “I said, ‘man, it’s right now, I came from my concussion with Ciryl Gane the same. I was coming from my concussion and I think, give me some time so then I can get prepared for the fight. I want to fight but not right now.”
“So then they finally decide, to release [me],” Junior continued. “You know what it sounds for me? It’s like dictatorship. You have to follow it, whatever they want, if you don’t, you go away and here I am. I went away.”
The news felt especially harder to take since JDS had already compromised to take on Gane under the UFC’s terms. In his version, Junior wanted to take on the rising prospect in January so he could have the proper time to prepare, an offer the promotion rapidly turned down. In order not to miss the opportunity, the Brazilian accepted the bout anyway.
“I said, okay I’ll fight him, but put the fight for January, please,” he said. “Because I’ll have enough time to get prepared. Then they already told me that ‘no, we need you to do get this fight now because if you don’t get it, we were thinking about releasing you from the contract.”
“I said, man, you’re not giving me [any time],” Junior said. “It’s not an option. You’re not asking me. You’re saying that, I have to fight this day, even if I can or not. So then I said, yes, I went to the fight. I cannot complain. I was, I was ready. I trained good. I have a very good body memory. I got in shape very fast. I was ready, but it wasn’t the necessary time for a real fight, especially for a tough guy like him. eah, you know, so I went to the fight and it happened the way it happened.”
Junior dos Santos (21-9) left the UFC on a four-fight losing skid, with TKO losses to Francis Ngannou, Curtis Blaydes, Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Ciryl Gane. The 37-year-old left the promotion with a 15-8 record, with his latest win coming March 2019, when he TKO’d Derrick Lewis.