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Junior dos Santos targeting fight with Fedor Emelianenko, switching to boxing

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Former UFC heavyweight names his future options after parting ways with the promotion.

Junior dos Santos got TKO’d by Cyril Gane in his last fight.
Junior dos Santos got TKO’d by Cyril Gane in his last fight.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos will not call it quits following his release from the promotion he called home for the past 12 years. After getting TKO’d by Cyril Gane and cut shortly after, ‘Cigano’ now considers what his next move will be and has a few options on his mind.

In an interview with Combate, dos Santos talked about his two preferred destinations post-UFC: either taking on legendary heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko or giving professional boxing a go. When it comes to facing the ‘Last Emperor’, Cigano says it would be a dream come true for him, especially if he could have the fight take place in Russia.

“I’m very interested in that fight. The people who manage me have been talking to Scott Coker. There’s nothing settled yet, though. They have some options and I don’t know how the negotiatons are going, but that fight interests me very much. I admire Fedor’s work and story, his rivalry with ‘Minotauro’, that was a magical time for the sport. To be able to fight him would be spectacular, especially to have a win over a legend. It motivates me. Fighting him in Russia would be very different, a lot of energy, but I think I’d be able to focus on what I need to do.”

Just like facing Fedor, Cigano believes making a move to professional boxing would also be a welcome change. Based on his sparring sessions with his teammates, dos Santos says he would be very successful in the ring and does not think he would become tired even after ten rounds.

“We’ve been talking (to boxing promotions). A boxing fight is something I’m very passionate about and it has come caught my attention. I think it would be an important and different next step in my career. There have been some talks about that, but nothing definite, once again. An interesting thing is that when I’m boxing with my mates, even if it’s hard sparring, I can easily go eight, nine or ten rounds while they get tired faster. It’s something I feel extremely comfortable doing. I’m sure I’d get great results.”

Dos Santos (21-9) was released from the UFC on a four-fight losing skid, all knockouts, with losses to Francis Ngannou, Curtis Blaydes, Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Cyril Gane. Before that, the 37-year-old was on a three-fight winning streak, with victories over Derrick Lewis, Tai Tuivasa and Blagoy Ivanov. Overall, Cigano left the promotion with a 15-8 record.