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Eduardo Dantas still hoping for UFC deal, targets ‘Frankenstein’ Dominick Cruz, others

Nova União fighter Eduardo Dantas is a former Bellator bantamweight king.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Two-time Bellator bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas is still pursuing a deal with the UFC.

“Dudu” met Jose Alday in the co-main event of FAC 12 on Feb. 6, an event which had UFC president Dana White in attendance for an episode of the UFC’s Lookin’ For a Fight series. Dantas scored a devastating head kick knockout in the second round, however White did not offer him a contract that night in Missouri. But Dantas remains hopeful.

“My coach and manager ‘Dede’ [Pederneiras] will call the boss this week,” Dantas told MMA Fighting. “‘Dede’ didn’t meet Dana last time he went to the United States, he only met Sean [Shelby, UFC matchmaker] and Din Thomas, and Sean said he didn’t watch my fight but heard it was a nice knockout and had no idea why Dana hasn’t given me the contract yet. Din Thomas said the same thing.”

Dantas is 2-0 with two finishes since leaving Bellator in 2019. With prior wins over the likes of Joe Warren, Marcos Galvao, Wilson Reis, Alexis Vila, and Mike Richman under the Bellator banner, Dantas already has a name in mind for a potential UFC bout.

“I’d like to meet ‘Frankenstein’ on my way to the top,” Dantas said, referring to former UFC and WEC champion bantamweight Dominick Cruz. “‘Frankenstein’ keeps getting injured and might retire at any moment. When I was champion the first time, in 2012, he was already hurt and out of the picture. He came back in 2016 and lost the belt on Dec. 20, 2016, and I continued as the undisputed bantamweight champion.

“This is the fight to make. I’m free to chase him now. And even though I don’t think he wants the smoke right off the bat because I’m not ranked, I’ll go after him.”

In case the Cruz matchup doesn’t happen anytime soon, all Dantas wants is the toughest challenges he can get against top UFC prospects and contenders.

“They can give me someone else,” he said. “Give me that sugar boy, noodle hair [Sean O’Malley], or Merab Dvalishvili. I know [Dvalishvili] is looking for opponents on his way to the belt and I’m here, the bantamweight prince. I was already a world champion when this guy started fighting and we both are the same age. Write this down: I’m a modern fighter and I have all the tools, physically and mentally. I’m well-rounded and I’m ready to start hunting.”