It’s hard to imagine any fight being bigger than when someone competes for a world title, but when it comes to media exposure and attention, Junior Dos Santos may very well be in store for just such an anomaly in his next fight.
Dos Santos was scheduled to meet UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez this year after becoming the No. 1 contender, but an injury forced the champion to the sidelines for the majority of 2011.
Instead of facing Velasquez with the gold on the line, Dos Santos was instead invited to become a coach on the newest season of “The Ultimate Fighter” opposite former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.
It’s undeniable that Lesnar, with his crossover appeal from his days as a WWE Superstar, is one of, if not the biggest draw in MMA today. “The Ultimate Fighter” exposure, coupled with a headline fight against Lesnar at UFC 131 in June may just raise Dos Santos’ stock more than a title fight could have.
Dos Santos’ manager, Ed Soares, told MMAWeekly Radio recently that the way things worked out may end up being for the best, as the Brazilian is now really ready to hit the big time with his fight against Lesnar.
“To be 100-percent honest with you, I think the Brock Lesnar fight is actually a bigger fight,” Soares commented. “From the standpoint of how many people are going to buy the pay-per-view and watching it. Not taking anything away from Cain Velasquez nor Junior Dos Santos, but I think sometimes things work out for the best.”
For his part, Dos Santos of course wanted to fight for the belt, but the chance to raise his own profile in the MMA world will only increase his value in the future. If he gets past Lesnar in June, that makes his title fight against Velasquez one of the biggest heavyweight bouts in UFC history.
Soares admits that there is definitely an upside to the way things worked out when looking at the much larger picture when it comes to his fighter’s success.
“It is a bummer that he’s not going to be able to fight for the title right now, but he’s getting a huge fight. He’s fighting a guy like Brock Lesnar. If he gets through Brock Lesnar, I can tell you that the fight with him and Cain is going to be a much bigger fight, simply because of the exposure he’s gotten from ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’ and if he beats Brock Lesnar, that’s just going to give him a lot more exposure,” Soares said.
“In the long run, it worked out probably better.”