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Former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos says his return to the top is a “mere formality” and he referred to his upcoming fight against Tai Tuivasa as “little more than a speed bump,” according to ESPN.
Dos Santos and Tuivasa will face off on Sunday (Saturday night, U.S. time) at the UFC Fight Night that will take place in Adelaide, South Australia.
In July, dos Santos returned to the octagon after a six-month suspension for a failed drug test to defeat Blagoy Ivanov by judges’ decision. The fighter had not completely moved on from the 2017 positive test for hydrocholorothiazide, which the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency later discovered his supplements were contaminated by Brazilian pharmacies. Dos Santos believes what happened to him should be a lesson for all.
I know it’s their job – USADA is there to protect us – but everything with my case, for me it was kind of weird; I don’t really like to thing about [it]. Because even the amount, they found a very cheap diuretic on me. Even if they found a lot of that thing on me, it wouldn’t be enough to hide anything. They found like a trace of that thing on me. So of course it was a contamination, and they still took me out of the fight. But I think it was a big opportunity for all of us – for USADA, for me, for all of us – to learn from that and, in the future, don’t allow those type of situations to happen again,” dos Santos told ESPN when asked if he thought he had been treated fairly.
The explanation has not stopped Tuivasa from shooting off some prefight barbs. There was a social media exchange where the 24-year-old Australian called his opponent “Junior dos Steroids” and a “steroid injecting little muppet.
When asked about the Instagram exchange, dos Santos said they did not talk that much.
I was answering some stupid thing that he was saying, and social media today, there is too [many] people that they believe everything that they see there. Everything that they hear there, they believe. So sometimes we have to clarify the thing, and that’s what I tried to do there, and I was giving him an answer. And now I’m here to give this answer to him in person next Sunday morning.
Currently, dos Santos is No. 9 in ESPN’s heavyweight rankings, therefore, he will need another win on top of his “formality” with Tuivasa before he would be allowed another title shot. He wore the title belt in 2011 and 2012. He had a title shot last year but lost to Stipe Miocic.
It’s my biggest goal to become champion. I think it’s everybody’s goal here in the UFC. We are fighting to become the champion one day. It’s going to happen, man. For me, it’s so clear, it’s so right, it’s going to happen.
There is no how it’s not going to happen. Like I said, the only thing I need to do is to put the things together during the fight and we win all the fights against all these guys. There is no one in this division that I cannot beat.
Dos Santos is aware that it only takes one lapse in concentration to lose a fight.
The heavyweight division is always very intriguing. These are the heavy hitters, you know? Every time when you do a mistake, it’s the end of the fight. So you have to be careful all the time, and this is what makes this division so intriguing, so exciting for the fans.
Both fighters have similar styles; they like to stand up and bang. Fans should prepare for an “explosive opening to what looms as a brutal contest,” according to ESPN.
I’ve been studying his style and I think he’s very aggressive, he throws some hard punches. But the thing is, I’m a very confident guy. It’s not about him, it’s about me, myself. If I do everything that I can to fight well, and if I follow the strategy and if I’m able to impose myself during the fight, I’m going to get the victory. There’s no doubt about that.
If I put things together inside the Octagon, I have everything to be No.1 in the world. I know that and I’m trying to show that to everybody… I’m going to be there to put 100 percent of me to make that fight a big show for Adelaide. And it doesn’t matter who they’re rooting for, it doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day, [after] the fight, we all will be having only one party: my victory.
By Jeanette Smith
ESPN: Junior dos Santos getting past detour in rise back to top of UFC
Image by Vicruz22 Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons – Creative Commons License