In an interview with Portal das Lutas, up-and-coming Junior dos Santos shed some light on why he was recently pulled from a scheduled UFC 102 matchup with Justin McCully. And the news he delivered may have some far-reaching implications in the not-so-distant future for the heavyweight division.
“They took me off the August 29 show. My opponent’s changed. I’ll probably face Cro Cop,” says Junior dos Santos. “If I beat him I’ll be in really good standing. If that’s truly the case, I’m guaranteed on the main card and in the main event of the evening. If I were to fight now it wouldn’t be on the main card…. To me it’s incredible. When they asked me if they could change the fight date I was a bit bothered, because I wanted to fight right away. I’ve been away for some time now. But the Fertitta brothers asked me and I accepted. After that I found out it would be against Cro Cop and was overjoyed. It’ll be a big opportunity in my career. Lots of good things have happened in my life and this is one more. I’m going to make the most of it.”
Based on that quote, our earlier report about UFC Kingpin Lorenzo Fertitta flying out on a private jet to Zagreb to negotiate an offer-that-he-couldn’t-refuse with Mirko Cro Cop appears to be accurate.
The winner of a potential fight between these two heavyweights would be seen as a top contender in the heavyweight division. For Junior dos Santos, it would mean a quick path to the top. The Brazilian prospect burst onto the scene just recently in October, scoring an 81-second knockout over then-top contender and fellow Brazilian Fabricio Werdum at UFC 90. He followed that win up with an even quicker 54-second knockout win over Stefan Struve at UFC 95. A win over the Croatian would put the Team Noguiera-trained big man in the same league as fellow prospects Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez, who are slated to fight each other at the following UFC 104 event.