Back in June, in the main event of UFC Minneapolis, former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos stepped into the Octagon with ferocious contender Francis Ngannou. Despite his best efforts, dos Santos became the latest victims of Ngannou’s incredible skill and power, succumbing to a TKO just 1:11 into the fight’s first round.
Several months removed from this lopsided loss, dos Santos is keen for a do-over against Ngannou. Although he came up short the first time around, he’s not convinced that Ngannou is a better fighter than he is.
Here’s what he had to say:
.@Junior_Cigano explains why he wants rematch against Francis Ngannou:
"He's not better than me."
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) September 2, 2019
“Man, look,” dos Santos began, looking back on his first fight with Ngannou (via MMA Fighting). “I was fighting against a big guy, everybody is talking about the power of Ngannou. I knew he had a lot of power, but at the beginning of the fight, I felt so good. He kicked me twice, I blocked the kicks twice. I kicked him twice again — one of the kicks he went down, the other one he fell. Then I punched him on the body and his eyes were kind of open. My strategy wasn’t to try to knock him out at the beginning, it was to move a lot and throw a lot of punches and make him follow me, make it a longer fight. But then I felt so good, and I saw him start putting his arms down, and I said ‘oh my gosh, this is my time.’ And I threw that overhand right, and that was the biggest mistake.
“That wasn’t part of the strategy,” dos Santos continued. “That exposed me to his punches. He has a long reach, everybody knows that. I put all my power on that overhand right, and once I finished the punch, he connected a little punch right on my ear. I should have come back from the punch, gone backwards, but I couldn’t. I gave my back to him, and he kept punching, and he won the fight.
“I’m not taking anything away from him, but it was a lucky punch. When I say lucky, there’s a big mistake in the fight world. Sometimes you say a guy won because he’s lucky. It doesn’t mean nothing bad. Being lucky means that you’re taking some [action], you’re doing something positive, then luck can reach you, can find you. So being lucky is something important, something good for you.
“He enjoyed the moment and he finished the fight, but he’s not better than me.”
Does a rematch between Francis Ngannou and Junior dos Santos interest you?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/2/2019.