Top heavyweight contender Junior Dos Santos positioned himself as the next challenger for the UFC heavyweight title by beating Shane Carwin in June. He will face Cain Velasquez later this year in what will be Velasquez’s first defence of the belt.
Dos Santos recently parted ways with his long-time manager Ed Soares and has declared an intention to be self-managed, for a while at least.
The move was a surprise, especially at such a crucial time of his career, and so Fighters Only reporter Eduardo Cruz contacted Dos Santos to find out the reasons for the split, as well as talk about the trainings with Nogueira and get his thoughts on Velasquez.
Eduardo Cruz/FO: Managing you own career, what opportunities do you think you will get now that you didn’t get before?
I wouldn’t say opportunities as such. I just think people who will work with my name will sell it in a way it wasn't being, you see?
But I think opportunities will come for sure, especially now that I will contest the heavyweight belt. Previously Ed and Joinha took care of stuff related to bonuses inside and even outside UFC but now I will have a bigger focus on me and they (the UFC) will attend to me better than I was being, I believe.
FO: You opted to live in Salvador, Bahia. Have you been recognized by the fans in the streets?
Ah, yeah I am. People are already accustomed to me and the siege of local public is huge. I like to live in Salvador. I will continue living here because this is a very good city and the academy of my coach and master Luis Carlos Dorea is located here, so I like to live in Salvador also for this reason.
FO: Besides coach Dorea, who are your partners out there in boxing, jiu-jitsu?
Here I have Yuri Carlton as jiu-jitsu coach, Ednaldo Lula, Paulao, and all the team from Rio de Janeiro that comes to train besides fighters of other teams. Demian Maia comes to training constantly and Team Nogueira folks Minotauro, Minotouro are usually around.
FO: Let's talk a little about Dorea. What's his importance in your preparation and how do you get along in Bahia?
Dorea is as if he were a second father for me. He takes care of me, advices me, prepare me and besides been my coach, he cares of a great part of my career as well. He's as a second father for me. I love him so much and like to have him beside me. FO: Does he help you just in boxing or in other areas of the preparation?
He hints in all the other aspects and bring people to help in trainings. He manages it but his main stuff is boxing.
FO: So, you are going to face the champion Cain Velasquez. What’s your opinion regarding the Mexican-American’s game? Where is he really good and where can he create trouble?
His main characteristic is conditioning. Velasquez has the best conditioning among the heavyweights. His wrestling is very good, he has shown good striking and we don’t know his jiu-jitsu, but for what I have heard, it is very good as well.
He dedicates himself to the training a lot and so I consider this is going to be my biggest challenge. I agree he is the number one heavyweight in the world today but I believe in myself, my team believes in me and I think I got all conditions in place to square off with anyone in the fighting world.
I will do the right preparation and with the right dedication I can face any one and I will be ready for Velasquez for sure.
FO: Do you think you take advantage of the fact he is returning from injury while you are in the active ‘rhythm’ of fighting more regularly?
I hope so [laughs]. I don’t know whether it will work so, though. I was ten months without fighting but the ones who work seriously keep training in the gym. I want to face the best of Velasquez, hopefully he will be well for us to make a good fight for all the fans and I am sure this is gonna be an excellent combat.
But it might be he feels the effects of this time off because of the surgery. It may be so - but it doesn’t affect my training at all.
FO: Frank Mir stated he hits harder than you. Is he an opponent you would like to face one day?
Who, Frank Mir? He said what?
FO: Yeah, he said he hits harder. Would you like to fight him to avenge Nogueira’s loss?
[laughs] First off, regarding hitting harder than me… [more laughter; pause for breath]
Look… when a fighter begins either to lose, or not to get satisfactory results, what does he do to promote himself? He talks. And it is what he’s doing. Frank Mir is a guy who likes to talk a lot, talks lots of bullshit and I don’t believe he hits harder than me.
He certainly may hit hard - he is a heavyweight, a former champion and it is not to be underestimated - but he also is very talkative.
And regarding revenge for Nogueira’s loss, its not even a factor.
I think I would fight Mir any day - if he qualifies himself to face me because, thanks to God, I am a bit ahead of him. But if one day he qualifies, I will fight him with pleasure and will give 100 per cent of myself to win the fight and he would feel who would hit harder, right?
But not to avenge Minotauro, because Minotauro is Minotauro - a great champion, a legend of the sport and he himself can do it. I am sure in this forthcoming bout he will prove again he has the conditions to defeat both Frank Mir and Velasquez. FO: The UFC doesn’t like this practice where team mates don’t fight against each other. You already stated you wouldn’t face Nogueira at all, so I ask, would you vacate the belt if you had to fight him by imposition?
Well… [short pause] I would not face Nogueira, for sure. And this is not a matter of training together, it is different. Its as if he were my older brother. Everything I managed to conquer, I owe to him. Without him, I likely wouldn’t exist, so he is like an older bother besides been a great friend.
That is a different thing from only training together and surely, if I was the champion and he qualified to dispute the belt, I could vacate the title or find another solution. With his determination to fight for the belt one more time, I certainly would be OK with abandoning the belt to wait for another chance [at winning it back again down the line].