June 9, 2011
Dos Santos peddling victories now
By JOSE RODRIGUEZ, QMI Agency
VANCOUVER - If peddling ice cream on the streets of Brazil would have kept him thin, South America would have one of the planet’s greatest dairy salesmen and the world would be without one of its top mixed martial artists.
Junior dos Santos admits he fell into the sport he now dominates, quite by accident.
“I come from a very humble family and since I was 10 years old I had to work. I was working selling ice cream on the streets and newspapers and things like that,” says the 26-year-old slugger who hails from the poor Brazilian city of Cazador.
“I never thought of becoming a fighter. Never.”
When he was 19, he moved to the Brazilian city of Salvador where he met his wife.
“After I was there for a couple of years, I noticed that I was getting fat and out of shape,” remembers Dos Santos.
“So I always saw this gym there and one day I went in to begin trying to lose some weight. I was still about 240 pounds but it was 240 bad pounds.
“I started doing jiu-jitsu when I was 21 and only then did I think of becoming a fighter.”
Within a few months, he met MMA legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at the gym. Nogueira saw raw talent and strength in the out-of-shape dos Santos.
“He was the biggest inspiration to me. He really helped me a lot and he was my master,” says dos Santos, who will face Shane Carwin in a heavyweight contender fight at UFC 131 here Saturday.
“My first jiu-jitsu coach introduced me to him and I helped him to train for some fights and that’s when he noticed ‘hey, you are big and you are strong’ and he really helped me. He’s why I’m here.”
The legendary jiu-jitsu ace gave Dos Santos more than just technical tune-up.
“He taught me about technique but mostly he taught me about confidence and to believe in myself,” says Dos Santos.
UFC 90 gave Dos Santos his first shot at the big leagues.
He came in as an underdog to a much more experienced and notable Fabricio Werdum.
“I was training with a legend. The number one guy in the world at that time. So I felt that if I could spar with Nogueira, I could beat Fabricio Werdum,” recalls Dos Santos.
It took him less than a minute-and-a-half to destroy Werdum with his heavy hands and crisp boxing style.
With a record of 12-1, Dos Santos remains undefeated in six UFC fights.
Manager Ed Soares, whose stable of fighters includes the Nogueira brothers and Anderson ‘Spider’ Silva, says Dos Santos is a natural athlete.
“If this guy would have been born in the States, he’d be in the NFL,” says Soares.
“He’s just a natural at everything he does.”
UFC president Dana White has had it with three round headliners. The boss of the biggest fight club in the world says — following the scheduled fights such as UFC 133’s with Rashad Evans taking on Phil Davis and UFC on Versus 5’s Dan Hardy against Chris Lytle — all main event fights will be five rounds, regardless of whether there’s a belt on the line or not ... White also said UFC 135 will take place in Denver and is expected to feature a title fight between light-heavyweight champ Jon (Bones) Jones and Quinton (Rampage) Jackson ... A new weight class may be on its way. White said he is seriously looking at introducing a 125-pound flyweight division in the near future ... The winner of the Dos Santos-Shane Carwin fight at UFC 131’s main event should face heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez “within four-to-five” months, White said.