Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos is no longer eligible to compete inside the Octagon, having earned his walking papers with a knockout loss to Ciryl Gane at UFC 256 back in Dec. 2020.
But that doesn’t mean “Cigano” is ready to call it quits.
In fact, the 37 year-old Brazilian is hoping to resurrect his mixed martial arts (MMA) career under the Bellator MMA banner where a bevy of marquee matchups await — including a heavyweight throwdown against “The Last Emperor.”
“I am a big fan of Fedor (Emelianenko) and it would be something really cool to be able to face him,” Dos Santos told Ag Fight (transcribed by Adam Martin). “I don’t know what his situation is, if he’s still fighting and I know he’s at Bellator. (Ryan) Bader who called us, who would welcome us, would be very interesting. He’s a really tough guy too. A rematch against Alistair Overeem himself, who always finds a way to get away from this issue. It can be at Bellator, wherever it is.”
Bellator MMA, under the leadership of Scott Coker, has welcomed several UFC veterans over the last couple of years, including fellow heavyweights Frank Mir, Roy Nelson, and Matt Mitrione, among others, but Overeem remains a free agent.
Emelianenko, 44, is currently enjoying his “retirement tour.”
Where Dos Santos ends up remains to be seen, but “Cigano” (21-9) could also try his luck in the world of bareknuckle boxing or pack up and ship out to Japan, where RIZIN matchmakers would likely welcome him with open arms.