Last night it was revealed that the UFC had released both Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem. While both heavyweights have not had the best records in recent years, the news was nonetheless surprising given the contributions both men made to the promotion and heavyweight MMA in general.
Dos Santos won the UFC heavyweight title with a first KO over Cain Velasquez in 2011, on the UFC’s debut show on FOX. After that he defended the belt with a TKO win over Frank Mir. JDS would lose the belt in his next match, though, taking a brutal five round beating from Velasquez.
After that dos Santos would fail to find his grove and eventually finish his UFC tenure off the back of a four-fight losing streak in which he suffered TKO stoppages versus Francis Ngannou, Curtis Blaydes, Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Ciryl Gane.
According to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani the UFC were planning to keep the 37-year-old around for at least one more fight.
Citing sources close to dos Santos, ESPN claimed that dos Santos was recently offered a short-notice fight against Marcin Tybura at UFC 260 on March 29. Dos Santos reportedly declined the fight because he felt he didn’t have enough time to adequately prepare. The UFC informed dos Santos of his release shortly after.
Since news of his release became public dos Santos has hinted, via his Instagram, that he plans to continue fighting. In a message to fans he thanked the UFC “for a great 12 years”.
“I fought through MMA’s Murderer’s Row to get my shot at the belt,” continued dos Santos. “Holding and defending it was one of the great honors of my life.”