Junior dos Santos was released from Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) earlier this year after suffering four straight losses, all via knockout. But according to the former Heavyweight champion of the world, his run with the promotion could have ended a lot sooner.
Dos Santos recently revealed that his final few years with the promotion were anything but warm and fuzzy, going a far as saying that the promotion threatened to cut him if he turned down the final two fights with the promotion, which came against Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Ciryl Gane.
“They were really unprofessional, let’s put it this way, with the way they treated [me], like they [treat] everybody else,” Dos Santos said during an appearance on MMA Fighting’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocação Franca, (via MMA Fighting). “I wasn’t the first and won’t be the last. The last two fights I got were on those terms, ‘You take it or you’re out.’”
The hulking Brazilian may have been a beast inside the cage but outside of it, he was one of the good guys, never being involved in brushes with the law to paint himself or the promotion in a bad light. Dos Santos says his nice persona may have led the promotion to take advantage of him.
“I was always a nice guy because that’s how I like to be, I like being nice to people so people are nice to me,” Dos Santos said. “I learned to be that way in life, to never expect from others something I don’t give them. I was always a nice guy, treating everybody well, always smiling, and in a way they took advantage of it, or treated it as a weakness, kind of putting me down, I don’t know. They tried to take the most advantage they could of the athlete I built, of Junior ‘Cigano,’ especially the way the last fight was, something really odd.”
Dos Santos is moving forward, however, going as far as revealing that he went through some therapy to be able to let go of some of the tension and feeling he may have had toward UFC.
“But honestly, that’s in the past. There’s nothing I can do, so I won’t carry that with me because, like I said, that’s in the past and it can’t leave the past. I’ve done a lot of therapy and learned to deal with that in a better way. We can’t resolve some things, so they’ll stay that way, and that’s the case with this [situation]. Let’s move on. This type of situation now with pro wrestling showed how much Junior ‘Cigano’ is beloved and how much Junior ‘Cigano’ can still perform.”
Since his final fight against Gane in December 2020, “Cigano” hasn’t competed in MMA. He did throw his name in the hat to fight Fedor Emelianenko at Bellator 269 this weekend (Sat., Oct. 23, 2021), but that honor ultimately went to Timothy Johnson.
Still, “Cigano” isn’t just sitting on the couch, he is currently a part of a big storyline in the professional wrestling world with AEW alongside some of his American Top Team (ATT) stablemates, so a future inside the ring could be his next full-time gig.