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UFC heavyweight champ Junior Dos Santos stops by Burbank

UFC heavyweight champ Junior Dos Santos stops by Burbank
ARCHIVE PHOTO: UFC heavyweight champ Junior Dos Santos stopped by Morton’s Steakhouse in Burbank to talk about his upcoming bout with Cain Velasquez.
(Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff Photographer)

BURBANK — It seems the only thing Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos does more frequently than knock people out these days is sport an ear-to-ear grin.

The affable and always-engaging “Cigano” sat down once more at Morton’s The Steakhouse in Burbank on Thursday afternoon, interrupting his training camp in his native Brazil, to promote his year-end title defense against Cain Velasquez.

For roughly two hours, the man who’s knocked out 11 opponents in a 15-1 career joked, laughed, smiled and spoke about his career thus far, Velasquez and everything in between while showcasing the friendly demeanor that’s quickly made him a fan favorite in the mixed-martial-arts world.

“I really believe in ... positive energy,” said dos Santos, who won the title from Velasquez in November 2011 with a first-round knockout in the UFC’s debut on FOX. “I really believe to deserve good things, you have to be a good person. I try to be the best I can to other people.”


Tickets for the UFC 155 card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas go on sale Friday, as dos Santos will defend his title for the second time. It was the third time dos Santos dropped by Morton’s for a UFC media luncheon, as the knockout artist has quickly embraced the roll of UFC champ and all that it entails.

“I’m enjoying it, I like it,” he said. “Now people give me more attention — all kinds of people.”

Right now though, dos Santos’ attention is on Velasquez (10-1), an all-around talent with phenomenal wrestling skills and stamina who recently stopped Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva with a savage first-round beating.

With a crushing overhand right and a barrage of rights and lefts on the ground to follow, dos Santos defeated Velasquez in just 64 seconds when the two met originally. Should the fight stay standing again, dos Santos sees no reason for a different result.


“I love to knock people out. I will do my best to knock him out again,” said dos Santos, who is 9-0 inside the UFC’s octagon, having won six by knockout and another via submission due to strikes. “His striking is good, but if he accepts a fight standing with me, he’ll get knocked out again. I don’t think he’s gonna do that.

“If he gives me the opportunity again, it’s gonna be faster than last time.”

Confident as dos Santos is, he added that he believes Velasquez is the No. 2 heavyweight in the world behind him and that if Velasquez is able to take the bout into the later rounds, that’s when he’s most dangerous.

“His cardio is amazing, so that’s the problem,” dos Santos said. “If the fight goes longer, it could be a problem for me.

“When you get tired, you forget about technique and everything.”

It’s hard to imagine dos Santos forgetting much, as he’s been a quick study in a variety of areas. Just 28, he had his first MMA fight at 21 and won the UFC crown when he was 27. He began his career humbly as a sparring partner for MMA luminaries and renowned countrymen Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and twin brother, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, picking up his craft less from training, but rather from taking a beating every day in practice. Not long after his first UFC fight in October 2008, he also set out to learn English and has picked it up quickly, despite no formal tutoring, learning from simply listening to people around him, along with television and music.

“It’s very important, I want to make everybody understand what I have to say,” he said. “I want people to listen to what I have to say and not a translator.”

But he still hasn’t learned quite how to convey words to describe the moment when he dethroned Velasquez to become champion.


“I don’t think I can put into words that moment,” he said. “Now I’m the champion, that’s what I worked so hard my career, my life [to accomplish].

“Everything was perfect. God blessed me in that time.”

And for a fighter who calls himself “boring,” finding pleasure in “simple” things such as going to restaurants, listening to music, just driving his car and training every day, it’s been a long road of hard work that he’s happy to keep traveling upon. Hence, he doesn’t drink, partake in an elaborate night life or do “crazy things.”

“It’s all about what you want for your life,” he said. “I prefer to train. It’s simple.”

Simplistic in the notion that dos Santos wants to keep doing what he’s doing, living a life he rejoices in and one he believes he was meant to do.

“I was born to be a fighter,” dos Santos said. “I really believe that. I could never play soccer or anything like that, but I could fight pretty well.”

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