After 12 years of service, former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight champion, Junior dos Santos, has been released by the promotion. “Cigano” made the announcement on social media earlier this afternoon.
“Thanks UFC for a great 12 years! I fought through MMA’s Murderer’s Row to get my shot at the belt,” dos Santos wrote on Instagram. “Holding and defending it was one of the great honors of my life. Thanks to every opponent, thanks to every fan and every critic. I’m going to spend some time back at the drawing board, but I’m excited to move on.”
The move may not come as a surprise to many since the Brazilian bruiser has lost four straight fights (all via knockout). Among the men to finish “JDS” since 2019 are Francis Ngannou, Ciryl Gane, Curtis Blaydes and Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
“Cigano’s” last win came in March 2019, a technical knockout victory over fellow heavy hitter Derrick Lewis. That win was part of Junior’s three-fight win streak, which also included a stoppage win over Tai Tuivasa and a decision nod over Blagoy Ivanov.
A 23-fight UFC veteran, dos Santos burst onto the scene at UFC 90 in Oct. 2008, knocking out Fabricio Werdum in the first round. He went on to collect eight consecutive victories soon thereafter — six via (technical) knockout — including capturing the 265-pound title with a stunning 64-second knockout of Cain Velasquez at UFC on FOX 1.
But, after suffering two brutal beatdowns at the hands of Velasquez, it seemed dos Santos couldn’t get his groove back, going 6-8 since 2012. Now, the 37-year old brawler is free and clear to sign with another promotion.
Any guesses as to where he will end up?