We reported earlier today that Junior dos Santos would be facing a yet-to-be-determined opponent for the UFC interim heavyweight championship after a shoulder injury put current champ Cain Velasquez out of action for at least the next 6-8 months. It appears as if those plans have changed.
UFC President Dana White announced today during a conference call that dos Santos would face former champion Brock Lesnar to determine the top contender for Velasquez’ title, and the two would coach season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter.
“I’m already prepared mentally – it’s going to be a tough season,” said White (props to MMAFighting for the transcription). “I deal with Brock in very short spurts. The guy fights two to three times a year, and it’s always tough. It’s going to be an interesting six weeks of filming. … [Lesnar] is not exactly a happy-go-lucky guy. Who knows what’s going to happen this season. I do know it’s going to be very interesting to see.”
The new season of The Ultimate Fighter debuts on March 30 on Spike TV, with the live finale airing on June 4. Lesnar and dos Santos would then fight after the season ends, possibly at UFC 131 on June 11.
Rumors had been swirling that Lesnar may agree to coach The Ultimate Fighter if the organization allowed him to appear at WrestleMania in April. Lesnar had a brief staredown with WWE star The Undertaker after his loss to Cain Velasquez at UFC 121, prompting rumors that the confrontation was planned to setup a Undertaker – Lesnar match at the WWE’s mega-event. White cleared up those stories, reaffirming that Lesnar would not be doing the show.
“There was no wheeling and dealing about the WWE,” White said. “I think everybody knows how I feel about that. He’s under contract with me.”
dos Santos recently revealed in an interview with Tatame that he was willing to put his title shot at risk and fight again before facing Velasquez. His decision was motivated by the amount of time he will have spent inactive–his last fight was in August–and also by his need to make a living; the Brazilian slugger explained to Tatame that he has not yet reached the level in this sport where he can afford to take off for any long period of time without taking a hit financially.
“In the fight world, to make a little more, you have to be a legend as Wanderlei Silva or [Antonio] Rodrigo Nogueira or you have to be the champion and today I am neither one nor another but my objective is to be [the champion],” he said.
dos Santos is a pupil under Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and frequently trains with the likes of UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante, and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. He holds a professional record of 12-1 and has gone undefeated while fighting in the UFC, taking out the likes of Fabricio Werdum, Stefan Struve, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Gilbert Yvel, Gabriel Gonzaga and Roy Nelson.
Lesnar is 5-2 in his short MMA career. He last fought at UFC 121: Lesnar vs. Velasquez last October, losing the title to Cain Velasquez via TKO in the first round.
What are your thoughts on the new season of The Ultimate Fighter? Who takes a Lesnar – dos Santos interim title bout? Let us know in our “Comments” section below.