Fans may have seen the last of former UFC heavyweight champ Junior dos Santos after a loss at UFC 256, according to UFC President Dana White.
White agreed that dos Santos needs to think about his future in fighting when asked about the ex-champ’s fourth straight knockout loss, which came against Ciryl Gane in the pay-per-view opener of Saturday.
Asked later if fans may have seen the last of dos Santos in the octagon, White said “possibly.”
Dos Santos brushed aside talk of retirement before his bout with Gane, an up-and-comer who came into the bout undefeated after six pro bouts with finishes in five of them. After a competitive opening round, Gane began to push ahead as he landed leg kicks at will and started to land more punches.
Then, a jab appeared to badly hurt dos Santos, who turned away as Gane surged forward and threw an elbow that caught him across the back of the head. Although UFC commentators quickly questioned whether the strike was legal, dos Santos’ efforts to move away and part of Gane’s arm touching dos Santos’ ear made it fair.
White said he had no issue with the stoppage, which was protested by dos Santos after the referee waved it off at the 2:40 mark of the second round.
“You guys tell me what you think, but what I saw was Junior had gotten hurt,” White said. “He got rocked, and he was almost walking away and turning his back to him, and Ciryl was throwing shots at him and then threw an elbow. They were squared up. You turned your back, and then he caught you on the back of the head.”
Once the best heavyweight in the UFC, dos Santos took a tremendous amount of damage in a pair of losses to now ex-champ Cain Velasquez, from whom he captured the title in 2011. He remained competitive in his next seven bouts, going 5-2. But a quick knockout loss to Francis Ngannou set in motion a slide that continued on Saturday.
At 36, dos Santos stands at 15-8 in the octagon.