Becoming the UFC heavyweight champion was the proudest moment of Junior dos Santos' career as a mixed martial artist.
Better yet, it was one of the single greatest accomplishments in the Brazilian knockout artist's life. The recognition and elevated profile of being a UFC champion put the cherry on top of his journey from hard-scrabble beginnings to becoming the best heavyweight fighter in the sport.
He earned his seat on the heavyweight throne by knocking out Cain Velasquez when the two fighters met for the first time at UFC on Fox 1 in 2011. One thundering overhand right toppled the champion, making "Cigano" the new king of the heavyweight division.
Unfortunately for the 32-year-old, the reign didn't last. Velasquez reclaimed the title in their rematch at UFC 155 last December. While their first matchup saw Dos Santos level the AKA-trained fighter in quick fashion, the second go-around was all Velasquez, who hammered out a lopsided unanimous-decision victory.
With each fighter having a victory in the rivalry, the rubber match was an inevitability, and the epic third installment of Velasquez vs. Dos Santos is set to go down on Saturday, October 19 at UFC 166 in Houston.
After realizing his dream and then having it taken away, Dos Santos is hungry to get his hands back on the heavyweight strap. He's prepared to do whatever it takes to get the job done against Velasquez and is determined to leave the Octagon as the new heavyweight champion.