Junior dos Santos had his hands raised in his return to competition, defeating Blagoy Ivanov in the main event of UFC Boise in July, and has no time to waste.
Happy to be back to fighting after proving that his failed drug test was result of contaminated supplements — and surprised with how much damage Ivanov could take without going down in a five-round fight — the former UFC heavyweight champion now targets a November return to the Octagon.
”The division is in a good moment right now, there are several good options,” dos Santos told MMA Fighting. “I would love a rematch with Stipe Miocic, but I don’t think they will do it. I don’t know why this fight wouldn’t make sense because the second one ended so quickly. He was happy to connect a punch, but that doesn’t prove superiority. We’re heavyweights. The same way he lost to (Daniel) Cormier, he defeated me.”
It’s unclear whether or not the UFC would book a trilogy bout between “Cigano” and Miocic next, especially after Cormier mentioned he would grant Miocic a rematch if Brock Lesnar isn’t available in the beginning of 2019. If that option isn’t on the table, the Brazilian has a few ideas for possible opponents.
”Not that I’m choosing, I’ve said thousands of times that I don’t choose opponents,” dos Santos said. “For an example, we have (Tai) Tuivasa, who beat (Andrei) Arlovski. There are several options at heavyweight. Even (Cain) Velasquez. I don’t know what’s his status. People talk and talk about him, but he’s been out for years and no one understands it. The UFC has several options to book my next fight.”
Regardless of who he faces next, “Cigano” believes he’s one win away from guaranteeing another shot at the heavyweight championship — even if he chooses not to think about it at the moment.
”I’m not worried about trying to guarantee a fight for the belt because that’s automatic, it will happen,” dos Santos said. “I’ve always done my best inside the Octagon, fought the best there is, and win or lose I’ve done my best in my fights. If I’m not the champion today, it’s because of mistakes I’ve made. My opponents have merit, too, of course, but the experience I’ve grained was great. The price I had to pay for that experience was high sometimes, I stayed out for a while, but I’m rebuilding.
”That’s what I’m here for. I’m motivated. I’m 34, but I’m feeling stronger, in a special moment in my career, more mature and motivated. It’s inevitable that I will fight for the belt again. It will come eventually, there’s no escape.”