Junior dos Santos is looking to reclaim the heavyweight belt, and on March 9 he can start that process.
Dos Santos will be taking on Derrick Lewis at UFC Wichita. It’ll be Lewis’ first bout since he came up short in a title fight with reigning champ Daniel Cormier at UFC 230. Given that Lewis just contended for the title, dos Santos is looking at this fight as a number-one contender bout.
“I haven’t thought too much about that, but I think so, yes,” dos Santos said to MMAFighting. “Derrick Lewis is ranked No. 2, so I think I can definitely fight for the belt after this win. What matters the most is getting good victories. I’m already qualified to fight for the belt, but we obviously need a winning streak to get there.”
Junior dos Santos is currently riding a two-fight winning streak with wins over former World Series of Fighting champ Blagoy Ivanov and the formerly undefeated Tai Tuivasa. Although his focus is currently on Lewis, dos Santos can’t help but hope he gets to fight the champ Cormier before he retires.
“People want to see the best fighting for the title, and I think I’ll be on my way to the belt with this win,” dos Santos said. “That makes me happy because I know Cormier is planning on retiring soon and one of my goals would be fighting him before he retires. There are several important fights I still want to do, but since he’s retiring soon, it would be a challenge that would both motivate and excite me.”
Cormier was expected to retire in March, however, Javier Mendez told BJPENN.com that his retirement will likely be delayed, thus making dos Santos’ goal attainable.
If dos Santos does get his desired fight with Cormier, he’s not expecting an easy night of work.
“That would be a big challenge,” dos Santos said. “He’s a great fighter, he imposes his strategy in the fight, especially his wrestling. He has good strikes, too, and since he has great wrestling, his opponents get confused and he lands his hands clean, like he did to Miocic. This challenge would excite me. Not only because he’s a champion, but because he’s a great athlete, too.”
“My goal is to become champion, of course,” he concluded. “With Cormier wanting to retire, I thought this fight would be very interesting. He’s an exceptional guy, a two-division champion. I wasn’t around in Fedor’s (Emelianenko) era, it would have been a great pleasure to face him, so I want to fight a two-division champion before he retires.”
Do you think Junior dos Santos and Daniel Cormier will fight this year for the heavyweight belt?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 2/4/2019.