Impressive young heavyweight Junior dos Santos has spent a total of 135 seconds in the Octagon during his two UFC matches, dispatching both Fabricio Werdum and Stefan Struve via TKO. He will take on MMA legend Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic at UFC 103 on Sept. 19 in Dallas.
While he may not be the feared knockout artist he once was, Filipovic is still an athlete that garners a ton of respect from his fellow fighters. Dos Santos, 24, spoke in glowing terms of the man who was, at one time, the most feared striker in the game.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to be fighting Mirko,” said Dos Santos, who trained with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at the Black House gym in southern California Friday. “It’s amazing to fight someone that’s at that level, someone who is recognized as an idol in MMA and has been around the sport so long, so I am very happy to be fighting him.”
Nogueira, who still harbors title aspirations of his own, raved about the 24-year-old striker and his punching power, predicting a UFC championship in Dos Santos’ immediate future.
“I’m in no hurry to get to a title shot,” said Dos Santos. “I want to be champion for a long time so I don’t want to rush anything. Obviously my goal is to have the title, but for now we’ll just take each fight one at a time.
“I am very lucky to have the chances I have had in the UFC and the fights that I took against worthy opponents and I am very lucky to have the training partners I have -- the Nogueira brothers and coach Luiz Dorea -- and I feel that I have grown a lot as a fighter and I feel I can call myself a full-on, complete fighter,” added Dos Santos.
Training at Black House has its advantages beyond just the Nogueira brothers and Dorea. Dos Santos also gets to mix it up with one of, if not the best, fighters in the world in Anderson Silva. His face lit up when talking about the UFC middleweight champ and how he has helped him along in his career.
“I feel that I learn a lot everyday in training,” said the rising heavyweight. “I train with Anderson Silva who is a master at his art and how can you not learn a lot from that guy. I feel like every fight I go in there more confident and more prepared and I feel like it’s an evolution that is not going to stop. I am going to just keep getting better and better with each fight.”