UFC No. 1 heavyweight contender Junior Dos Santos has waited a long time for his shot at the title. He thought he had secured a bout after defeating Roy Nelson at UFC 117 in title eliminator matchup. After Cain Velasquez defeated Brock Lesnar for the title at UFC 121, all that was left was for the UFC to announce a date and location for Dos Santos and Velasquez to go toe-to-toe for the UFC heavyweight title.
Unfortunately for Dos Santos, Velasquez suffered a torn rotator cuff in the fight with Lesnar. His doctors told him to take six weeks off and see if the shoulder could heal on its own. Velasquez stayed idle and was examined after taking the necessary time off, but was told by his doctors that the injury was more severe than first thought and would require surgery.
He has been sidelined since. When he makes his way into the cage next Saturday night against Dos Santos on what is sure to be one of the more historic nights in UFC history, there will have been almost 13 months between fights for the Mexican superstar, who proudly boasts his heritage on his chest in the form of a Brown Pride tattoo.
Yesterday both champion and challenger were on the line for a press conference that was not only promoting their fight, but the fact that it will air live during prime time on the FOX Network. The contest will be the first venture between the UFC and FOX Sports. The two companies recently reached an agreement on a seven-year deal worth in the neighborhood of $90 million per year.
Fox has been very proactive in promoting the fight as they have shown commercials during their NFL coverage on Sunday afternoons and had Velasquez on for a brief interview to discuss the matchup as well as the fact that he and Dos Santos have been given the honor of representing the UFC during their initial run on FOX. This past Sunday, FOX aired a UFC Primetime special which allowed fans to get an intimate knowledge of both fighters an hour before their 4 p.m. ET NFL coverage began.
The deal also will see the movement of The Ultimate Fighter reality show from the Spike TV network to FX and there will also be fights shown the FOX-owned Fuel channel. Production will still be controlled by the UFC although UFC president Dana White said that FOX has been very helpful and is already the best business partner they have ever had.
Yesterday Dos Santos came across very shy yet very confident and heaped a ton of praise on his opponent. He is excited for the opportunity and realizes that Velasquez is the top guy in the heavyweight division right now, but Dos Santos will be looking to change that come November 12. Below are some of the comments and thoughts that Dos Santos shared with the media yesterday.
Dos Santos could have sat out and waited for Velasquez to return from injury, but chose to coach opposite Brock Lesnar on The Ultimate Fighter with the agreement that the two would meet at UFC 131 in a No. 1 contender's match. Lesnar unfortunately had to pull out, but was replaced by Shane Carwin. Dos Santos showed just how much the title shot meant to him by dominating the much bigger Carwin for three rounds en route to a unanimous-decision victory.
"Yes I have waited a long time. I began preparing for this a long time ago and just started back up again recently," said Dos Santos.
It was tough to wait, but I am such a good place in my life. The UFC has given me such a great opportunity in fighting a great champion like Cain Velasquez on the UFC's debut on Fox. This is a really exciting time and I want to show my best.
It's also an opportunity to fight on Globo Television. They are really the eyes of Brazil and to be on Globo means to be a part of the growth of the sport which has grown so much. The UFC has two great champions in Anderson Silva and Jose Aldo who hail from Brazil and the partnership will help Brazilian fighters and I am very happy to be a part of it.
Everything really happened really fast for me and I have always given 100 percent and I kept working really hard. I truly believe that if you are a good person, apply yourself and believe in God then good things will happen to you. I started training jiu-jitsu less than six years ago and I am about to fight for the heavyweight title. I just kept applying myself.
Dos Santos was asked about his time as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter and the extra media attention he received because of it. Has it affected the way he trains and what does he do to make sure none of the extra work interferes with his training camps?
"Nothing has changed, I am very focused and all of these opportunities have all made my life better," explained Dos Santos.
At the end of the day every man needs luck and I am a lucky guy. When Cain was first injured I was frustrated, but look at all of the good things that have come my way as a result of that. I got the opportunity to be on TUF, to work on my game, to fight with Carwin and now I get my opportunity against Cain on FOX.
The historic storyline behind this fight has not been lost on "Cigano" in the least bit. He has repeated time and time again how honored he is to not only fight Velasquez for the UFC title, but to do it on the first UFC on FOX show as well. It is something that he will take with him long after he has left the sport of mixed martial arts.
"It's very gratifying to be part of all of this, especially fighting against the best heavyweight in the world," Dos Santos stated. "He is undefeated, but come November 12 I want to be the No. 1 heavyweight in the world. I am very thankful for the opportunity."
When both fighters were asked to discuss their upbringing, each man had an interesting story to tell. They may have grown up under different circumstances, but both fighters refused to forget where they came from and use their humble childhood as motivation to provide a better life for their families today.
"I believe we reap what we sow, it's true I came from a very humble family and a very difficult childhood," offered Dos Santos.
Going through that had made me the man that I am today am I very grateful that I know the value of everything that I have achieved.
My life and the lives of my family has changed for the better and I want to thank God everyday for all of that. I want to continue to change and to become the heavyweight champion will keep me on that path to better my life and the lives of my family.
The questions began to switch gears towards the training camps both men were going through. Velasquez is a key member of the American Kickboxing Academy and has been for some time. Dos Santos works with many of the same people who helped get him to where he is today.
"I've been going through some very tough training the last three months preparing for a five-round fight. I have been working with Doria and the Nogueira brothers and have been counting on many others including several local fighters," Dos Santos proudly explained.
I feel fantastic and despite the great opportunity I don't feel any added pressure. I feel good, I am very confident in my abilities and feel I will come out the winner.
I know Cain has been out for awhile, but I won't let that effect how I train. I have been training two sparring sessions a week for six rounds each. My strength and conditioning training has been very rigorous. I don't believe this fight will go all five rounds as Cain and I are both aggressive fighters. We are both professionals and I'm sure when he steps inside that Octagon he will be ready.
I don't want to fight an injured Cain Velasquez. I want to fight him at his best when he is 100 percent. He is the champion for a reason and I am expecting him to be at his absolute best come next Saturday night. Just as he can expect me to come in at my best.
Bryan Levick is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand. You can find him on Twitter @BryanLevick