Former UFC heavyweight champion Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos has hit some rough times as of late.
Battling a plethora of injuries, the Brazilian slugger has only competed three times since October 2013, losing two out of his last three bouts including a disappointing knockout loss to Alistair Overeem at last December’s UFC on FOX 18.
After the upsetting loss, Dos Santos was quickly booked to meet surging contender “Big” Ben Rothwell at UFC Fight Night 86 in Croatia. Having not been too active as of late, the quick turnaround was ideal for the former champion, who would like to fight three times in 2016.
Not only did he express the interest in fighting more often, but “Cigano” also feels as if a win over Rothwell would put him back close to a title shot:
“After my last fight, I told Joe Silva I wanted to fight again soon and I was glad they were able to get me a fight quickly. I think it’s important to fight more frequently so I can stay active. Rothwell is a very hard opponent, who is on a good win streak and has been imposing himself. He showed he can be very effective, especially in his last fight, when he submitted Josh Barnett, which was kind of unexpected. I think a win over him will put me back on the top of the weight class, maybe even close to a title shot. But honestly, I’m not thinking about the belt now. All I want to do is fight as frequently as possible. If everything goes according to my plan, I want to have this fight in April, then another one in August or September and then again in December. Three fights in one year is a good number.” Dos Santos told Portal do Vale Tudo.”
While Dos Santos clearly hasn’t looked his best, he does indeed have a huge opportunity in front of him.
Rothwell has won four straight all by way of finish and is currently ranked at No. 5 in the division. Arguably already deserving of a title shot, “Big” Ben represents a pivotal test for the Brazilian.
If “Cigano” indeed gets back to his winning ways, where does that put him in the cloudy heavyweight class?