Junior dos Santos | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Outside of Cain Velasquez himself, no one was more impacted by the news of his shoulder injury than the No. 1 for his UFC heavyweight championship.
Deep in training for an anticipated matchup with Velasquez, possibly at UFC 129 in Toronto, Junior dos Santos will instead have to wait until late summer for a crack at the champion. While he would welcome the chance to face Velasquez at UFC “Rio” in Brazil in August, dos Santos made clear his desire to fight for an interim title while the American Kickboxing Academy standout heals from his injury.
“Of course, it would be amazing to face Velasquez at UFC ‘Rio’ in August, but I cannot stay away from the Octagon for a year just waiting for him to recover,” dos Santos told Sherdog.com. “I really think that the fairest thing to do would be for [UFC President] Dana [White] to give me the opportunity to fight for an interim belt. I’m 100 percent focused on getting this belt.”
Velasquez captured the title in a rousing first-round technical knockout against former World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Brock Lesnar at UFC 121 in October. Dos Santos was understandably disappointed when word of the undefeated champion’s injury reached his ear.
“This is the worst news I could have,” dos Santos said.
Dos Santos, on a seven-fight winning streak, has not competed since he earned a unanimous decision over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 10 winner Roy Nelson at UFC 117 in August. Nearly five months later, he finds himself without an opponent and uncertain as to what the immediate future holds for him.
“I’m in the best moment of my career, training hard and working so hard to reach the fight of my life, and, suddenly, it’s postponed eight months. It’s definitely not fair,” he said. “I’m already five months away from fighting. I can’t wait eight months.”
The 26-year-old Brazilian hopes another opportunity will present itself in the meantime.
“Fighting is my life, not only because I love to do that but because I need to fight for a living,” dos Santos said. “I still don’t make money like the other top guys, so I really need to work.”
In the interim, dos Santos plans to travel to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to help train UFC middleweight king Anderson Silva for his scheduled title defense against Vitor Belfort at UFC 126 in February. He has trained with both men in the past and provided some insight into the Silva-Belfort showdown.
“I’ve already trained with both and can predict that it will be an amazing fight,” dos Santos said. “Vitor is more explosive and open, while Anderson is more intelligent and brings the opponent into his game. I would say that it’s 60 percent for Anderson and 40 percent for Belfort.”