Dantas, who returns to the cage to face off against tournament winner Rafael Silva on March 7, expects a career turnaround when his fights start to air live on FOX Sports in Brazil in 2015. He was not a part of Bellator 106, the only card to air live on FOX Sports before 2015, and he expects to have more recognition among fans and get better sponsorship deals.
"The UFC has more marketing in Brazil, so it’s harder to get sponsors," Dantas told MMAFighting.com. "If you’re in the UFC, you get sponsors easily. That’s the biggest difference.
"They don’t care if you’re good or not, they only want who’s in the media. When Bellator gets closer to UFC’s level in Brazil, it will get way better for all of us. And now that they have a deal with FOX Sports, it’s better already."
FOX Sports Brazil has aired a TV special on Dantas already, and he says he could detect a difference.
"I felt the difference immediately, people ask for photos and talk to me on the streets and I haven’t fought yet," he said. "I’m the only Bellator champion in Brazil and I hope they air my next fight live on FOX Sports."
If FOX Sports Brazil doesn’t get a special deal to air his fight, Dantas vs. Silva will air live on TV Esporte Interativo, and the bantamweight champion expects an exciting match-up.
"I’ve seen his fights and he likes to throw some spinning stuff and takes the fight to the ground," he said. "I’m excited to fight him. I hope he’s ready and we can do a great fight for the fans. I like the striking game, so I prefer to fight standing, but I feel at home on the ground, and he will also be in trouble if the fight goes to the ground."
Dantas haven’t fought since February, when he defended the bantamweight championship with a TKO victory over Marcos Galvao. He was expected to fight Silva earlier this year, but an ankle injury forced him to avoid training for a month.
"I suffered a ligament injury and I tried to train a week later, so it got worse," he explained. "But I’m 100 percent now. I’m back to the training and I don’t feel the pain anymore. I’m just waiting to get back in the cage."
Prior to the injury, Dantas went to Holland and Russia to add new weapons to his arsenal, and he’s looking forward for a chance to test them inside the Bellator cage.
"It’s always great to search for new techniques to evolve, and I’ve learned a lot of things there that I wouldn’t learn here," he said. "I learned that I have to be more patient in my stand up game, and I added a whole new set of things to my game.
"I see the striking game with new eyes now, learned with fighters that really know what they’re doing, K-1 guys. And that’s why I wanted to fight so bad this year. In Russia, I learned lots of ankle locks with some sambo fighters. Russian are so strong, man, and they never get tired. It’s impressive. I believe their genetics are amazing, the 15-year-old kids there are strong."