Junior dos Santos: UFC threatened to cut me if I turned down fights with Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Cyril Gane
Junior Dos Santos made his professional wrestling debut under the All Elite Wrestling banner over the weekend and hasn’t felt so happy for a long time.
Speaking this week on the Portuguese-language MMA Fighting podcast Trocação Franca, the former UFC heavyweight champion spoke about his last run with the company, where things felt “strained and really weird.” Competition in AEW “lit a huge fire in me” after I no longer felt desirable in the UFC.
“They were really unprofessional, shall we say, with the way they treated [me]how are they [treat] everyone else, ”said dos Santos. “I was not the first or the last. The last two fights that I had were on such terms: “Take it or leave it.”
Cygano had a three-fight winning streak over Derrick Lewis, Tai Tuivas and Blagoy Ivanov before a four-fight skid that led to his release from the company in 2021. The last two fights, which Dos Santos said were mostly forced. on it, ended in a second-round knockout defeat over Jairzinho Rosenstruik and future interim champion Cyril Gein.
“I’ve always been a good guy because I like being that way, I like being good with people, so people are good to me,” dos Santos said. “I have learned to be like that in life, never to expect from others what I don’t give them. I was always a good guy, I treated everyone well, I always smiled, and in a way they used it to their advantage or treated it as a weakness, kind of humiliated me, I don’t know. They were trying to make the most of the athlete I built, Junior Cygano, especially the last fight, something really weird.
“But to be honest, this is in the past. There is nothing I can do, so I will not carry this with me, because as I said, this is in the past and it cannot leave the past. I have been treated a lot and have learned to cope better with it. We cannot resolve some issues, so they will remain so, in this case [situation]… Let’s move on. Such a situation with professional wrestling showed how much we love the junior “Cygano” and how much he can still perform. “
In his prime, the Brazilian heavyweight was a big star in his home country as he ruled as UFC champion, earning victories over the likes of Kane Velazquez, Frank Mir, Shane Karvin, Fabrizio Werdum and Mirko Crocop. He was no longer a champion when the UFC-Reebok deal began, but he influenced him greatly, eventually losing lucrative sponsorship deals with Nike, TNT Energy Drink, Corinthians, and CERS.
“The money I made for a living came from my sponsors,” said dos Santos. “The money I made in battles I used to spend everything in my camps because I brought outside people to help me and paid their expenses there. [in Brazil] with cars and a house. I gave them good structure with my battle wallets. Monthly, no matter what happens, [sponsorship] the money was in my account. This was extremely important to me and, in my case, [the Reebok deal] was a big hit. It put us all on the same level. Despite the fact that some of the fighters had contracts with Reebok or Monster, it was more of a symbolic deal, not a good one. “
Dos Santos no longer has a contract with the UFC, is ready to sign with another MMA organization, but is focused on taking the leap into the world of boxing, where deals are not as offensive as in MMA. In MMA, he said: “You sign a contract for eight fights and [they will] do whatever [they] I want with you. “
“This is what’s happening in the UFC and these promotions,” said Dos Santos, who had five fights left at the time of his departure. “It blocks athletes, [losing] great negotiating opportunities and they do what they want. The UFC has the security to keep you locked up for eight fights. Now you lose the first one and they can let you go if they want to, there is no security [for the athlete]… It’s different in boxing: you negotiate fight after fight, sign contracts and pay. My case in the UFC, for example, I fought seven times before. [fighting for] Belt. I earned the same amount of money as indicated in my contract. “
Dos Santos’ unveiled pay for his first UFC title fight, facing then-champion Kane Velasquez at the first UFC live show on FOX, was $ 220,000, including a $ 110,000 win bonus.
“Do you think the guy who is going to fight for the world boxing title will do the same as it was written in his contract, which he signed then? Of course not, ”he said. “For a title fight, even as a contender, I would have gotten a great wallet because it’s made that way, you sign contract after contract.”
Dos Santos hopes for a better and safer future for athletes in MMA with, for example, Ali’s Law in Sports. However, he does not hold his breath.
“Nothing helps athletes,” said dos Santos. “Legally, we do not have such a structure in MMA as boxing with this law. … This is very important for the protection of the fighter, because now everything is going as it should. [MMA promoters] to want. They do what they want. If it worked, great. If not, then they are kicked out, taken aside, the salary is lowered, they do this or that. I think it would be very important if they finally brought the Ali Law to MMA, making it clearer and more secure, with better contracts and a basis to protect athletes. “