Junior dos Santos came into UFC 252 looking tight and ripped, sounding like someone ready to climb back up to the top of the heavyweight mountain. Unfortunately, he ran into a boulder by the name of “Bigi Boy” Jairzinho Rozenstruik, who survived a lot of solid boxing and counter striking from “Cigano” to land an overhand right that dropped his opponent to the canvas. One violent swarm later and Rozenstruik had his hand raised, winning the fight via technical knockout at 3:47 of round two.
It’s been a mixed bag for Junior lately. He’s now 3-3 since losing his last Heavyweight title shot against Stipe Miocic in 2017 — three wins in a row ... and now three losses in a row. At 36 years of age, there’s a lot of very valid questions about whether he’s still what it takes to contend at the very top of the division. And while he didn’t tip his hand on what he’s thinking regarding his fighting future, he did put out a very sweet message to his fans thanking them for everything.
“Hey you all, I’m still sitting here at my hotel room, and thinking about the fight, of course,” dos Santos said in an Instagram video. “But I just would like to thank all you guys for your support, your messages, for your positive energy that you guys are always sending to me. It’s a very important part of the game and I’m very happy to count with you guys, you know? For your support. Thank you.
“And unfortunately we weren’t able to get the result we were expecting for, but I was feeling great,” he continued. “I was feeling ready to win. But the fighting is like those surprise boxes, you know? Sometimes you get a negatively surprised by something and that’s what happened to me on the fight. I got caught and my opponent took the moment to finish the fight. Now it’s time to wait for the dust to settle and then ... think about the next step. Thank you.”
Fortunately for you “Cigano” fans, it doesn’t sound like UFC is ready to put its former champion out to pasture just yet. When asked by a reporter whether it was time to discuss retirement with Junior (referred to as the “Chuck talk”), UFC President, Dana White, refused to say yes.
“I obviously gotta ... I don’t like to do stuff like that tonight, but go home, think about it, take the weekend, and then matchmaking’s on Tuesday,” White said. “We’ll talk about what we think for JDS. He’s the nicest guy in the world, love that guy.”
You’d think it would go the other way, but for some reason Heavyweights seem to be able to stay competitive longer in their division than others. Dos Santos wouldn’t be the first big man to turn his career around after 35 and make another solid run at the title. And really, is it fair to be talking end of life options for the No. 5-ranked Heavyweight in the world, whose three losses have come to No. 2, No. 3 and now No. 6?
Maybe when he’s dropping bouts to guys floating around the edge of the Top 10 we can talk.