For the past six months, Junior dos Santos trained at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Fla., the first he has held a camp without the guidance of original mentor Luiz Dorea.
The final result wasn’t exactly ideal, as “Cigano” was knocked out by Alistair Overeem in the second round of the co-main event at UFC on Fox 17 this past Saturday. Sherdog.com spoke with Dorea shortly after the fight’s conclusion.
“Cigano couldn´t find himself. He was not having the right distance to connect the punches. He had to get closer and use his speed in order to be more efficient,” Dorea said. “I thought his timing was off, and he was not confident enough to close the distance. He knows much more than what he showed.
“Two years ago he was considered the best boxer in MMA. I created a methodology of training and adapted his boxing to MMA in order for him to keep his essence. That´s how he got the UFC belt just five years into his career. Cigano is a prodigy.”
Dorea discovered dos Santos training in one of his boxing schools in Salvador in 2004. “Cigano” turned pro in 2006 and after seven impressive fights on the Brazilian circuit, made his Octagon debut in 2008 with a knockout over the current heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum at UFC 90. Dos Santos would win six more fights before toppling Cain Velasquez in November 2011 to capture heavyweight gold. Since then, however, Velasquez has bested the Brazilian twice, mixing wrestling and boxing to neutralize his opponent. After the second loss, which occurred at UFC 166, dos Santos decided it was time to improve his MMA game.
Prior to facing Stipe Miocic last year, dos Santos held his camp at Nova Unio in Rio de Janeiro and had Andre Pederneiras and Dórea on his corner on fight night. After outpointing Mioic in a close decision at UFC on Fox 13, “Cigano” decided to move to Florida to do his entire camp for Overeem at American Top Team. This time, Dorea did not come with him.
“I always thought he should stay in Salvador, but he decided to move to Florida. Salvador is where he learned everything, where he was made into a world champion,” Dorea said. “But I have to understand he is a young fighter and wanted to get new knowledge.
“The doors here will always be open to him. I´ll be always waiting for him. Our relationship goes beyond the training. Cigano is like a son and that confidence we have is something very important. Of course he is testing new training, getting new information, and when we change, we take a risk. If it were up to me, I hope he returns so we can recapture what he does the best and keep working to make his dream of regaining the title come true.”
Leonardo Fabri contributed to this report.