Who decides when a fighter’s career is over when that fighter still wants to fight? When a fighter thinks they still have that one more run to glory? A run for the gold? As the UFC roster cut is not finished yet, you have to wonder if Junior Dos Santos is going to make that list.
Last night at UFC 256 we saw up and coming French Kickboxer Cyril Gane dispose of former UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior Dos Santos with relative ease. Before the fight “Cigano” was on a three fight skid, before everyone gets on the “he is washed up” bandwagon, the three men he lost too in his last three fights to weren’t just regular heavyweights to say the least. The first loss was to none other than Heavyweight hammer Francis Ngannou and that was in the very first round from strikes. Then to up and coming wrestling powerhouse Curtis Blaydes and then after that to Jairzinho Rozenstruik, both by punches in the second round. The three of those guys could end anyone’s night with the flick of a jab, so there’s no dishonor to lose to those three. But it was the things I saw in those fights that showed that we were not looking at the same guy that destroyed Cain Velasquez. Now coming into the fight with Gane even after the three losses Junior was still ranked 7th, which shows the lack of depth in the Heavyweight division, which also means that with one or two wins JDS could have easily been back in the title picture. Plus with Daniel Cormier retiring that gave a lot of the heavyweight division room to breathe.
But back to this fight with Gane. It was apparent Cyril was picking him apart from the outside and eventually JDS got hurt by a jab that put him down and eventually finished him. So that leads us to think, have all the wars really gotten to JDS? I would say so just from last night’s performance, but does that mean that Junior’s run in the division has to be over? I don’t think so, I know that like any other promotion, the UFC wants to move forward with new, younger, hungrier fighters like Gane, but as I said earlier, the lack of depth in the division could possibly help JDS. Or the B-side of the tape was just shown to us last night. That JDS can’t even be a gatekeeper in the division, simply because the ease in which Gane beat him last night. So if he is allowed to keep his spot on the roster, he would be nothing more than a stepping stone fighter, someone for the younger guys to hone their craft against, to build their records up with by beating a “former UFC champion.”
Now that’s not the option I wanna see for a legend like Junior. He has entertained us for years in the UFC, he’s never had a boring fight, and has fought a who’s who in the division. Beaten guys like Fabricio Werdum, Mirko Cro Cop, Roy Nelson, Shane Carwin, Cain Velasquez, Mark Hunt (with a phenomenal wheel kick), the current champion Stipe Miocic and others. And when he lost, he lost to nothing but the best, Alistair Overeem, Cain Velasquez, and other big names. He had countless “fight of the night” awards and “knockout of the night” countless times as well. No one knows what the future holds for “Cigano,” but one thing I know for certain, whatever happens to JDS, he will always be a legend of the sport and MMA.