ZAGREB, Croatia – With UFC headliners regularly falling out in 2016, and no clear No. 2 contender yet in the heavyweight division, it would seem a good idea for Junior dos Santos to stay in shape – just in case.
Asked by MMAjunkie whether he might stay ready in the event next month’s title headliner between champ Fabricio Werdum and Stipe Miocic is altered by injury, Dos Santos (18-4 MMA, 12-3 UFC) chuckled at the prospect and said, “Yeah, you never know, you know?”
“Normally, after a fight, I take 10 or 15 days to rest, and then I get back to my training,” he added. “So maybe. You never know. But it’s going to be a great fight there in Brazil.”
Right now, it looks like everything is going as planned for UFC 198, the pay-per-view event where Werdum (20-5-1 MMA, 8-2 UFC) and Miocic (14-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) clash in a 40,000-seat arena, Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, Parana, Brazil, which quickly sold out after a rush on ticket sales. The fight was put together in the wake of an injury to ex-champ Cain Velasquez (13-2 MMA, 11-2 UFC), who was set to headline this past month’s UFC 196 in a rematch with Werdum before he was forced to withdraw with an injury. Velasquez is now set to face Travis Browne (18-3-1 MMA, 9-3-1 UFC) at UFC 200.
But like Dos Santos said, you never know. UFC on FOX 19, for example, just lost its scheduled headliner when Tony Ferguson was forced to withdraw from a pivotal lightweight matchup against Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Dos Santos, though, may have jumped the line at heavyweight with an impressive domination over Ben Rothwell (36-10 MMA, 6-4 UFC), who’d previously won four straight bouts to put himself into contention. The fight headlined UFC Fight Night 86 at Zagreb Arena in Zagreb, Croatia. It aired live on FOX Sports 1.
Although unsure of how many fights he has before he gets a title shot on his own, Dos Santos said he’ll focus on picking up more wins to show the UFC he’s still viable to win back the belt he lost to Velasquez in 2012.
“I don’t care about that now,” he said. “I just want to fight. I was thinking about that too much earlier in the day, but now, I just want to fight. I know it’s going to happen at some point. Whatever the UFC wants to do, or any opponent they want to give me, I’ll be ready for that.”
That includes, of course, Werdum and Miocic, both of whom he’s previously beaten.
“I think it’s going to be a good fight,” Dos Santos said of the UFC 198 headliner. “But I see a little bit of an advantage for Miocic, because Werdum doesn’t take anybody down. He just submits people when people take him down. And talking about their standup skills, Miocic is better. But a fight’s a fight. You never know.”
Just like UFC fight cards these days.