Former undisputed UFC heavyweight champion, Junior dos Santos is slated to bring his talents to professional wrestling following his release from the Dana White-led promotion back in March — debuting under the AEW (All-Elite Wrestling) banner on the weekend of October 15. and 16. — in an event in Miami, Florida.
dos Santos, a former undisputed heavyweight champion under the UFC’s banner, was, along with past-foe and decorated Dutch kickboxing icon, Alistair Overeem, handed their walking papers from the promotion in March of this year.
The Brazilian last competed professionally against current interim heavyweight champion, Ciryl Gane in December of last year, dropping a second round knockout loss. The defeat came as the veteran’s fourth consecutively, following a trio of previous knockout defeats to current heavyweight titleholder, Francis Ngannou, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, and Curtis Blaydes.
According to a report from ESPN MMA reporter, Marc Raimondi, dos Santos is scheduled to feature in a six-man tag team professional wrestling match next weekend, with fellow American Top Team trainee, former two-time UFC welterweight title challenger, Jorge Masvidal slated to be in the Brazilian’s corner.
Speaking with the outlet this week, dos Santos expressed his excitement at making the transition to professional wrestling.
“I love it,” Junior dos Santos said. “It’s very different from MMA, but just as exciting. The reactions from the fans are amazing. I’m having a lot of fun and look forward to kicking (Chris) Jericho and (Jake) Hager’s asses next week.“
A former undisputed heavyweight champion, the Santa Carina knockout-artist is best remembered for his trilogy of fights with fellow former heavyweight champion turned professional wrestler, Cain Velasquez — and holds victories over four former heavyweight gold holders; Frank Mir, Stipe Miocic, Fabricio Werdum, and Shane Carwin.
In his most recent professional mixed martial arts win, dos Santos headlined a UFC Fight Night Wichita card in March 2019 — stopping recent interim title challenger, Derrick Lewis with a second round knockout.
Over the course of recent weeks, American Top Team trainees, including the aforenoted, Masvidal, Bellator middleweight, Austin Vanderford, BKFC flyweight, Paige VanZant, and former UFC heavyweight champion, Andrei Arlovski have featured in AEW segments — with the facilities founder and owner, Dan Lambert serving as a manager on-screen.