Throughout his eight-fight UFC career, if there was one thing you could say about heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos is that he’s a pretty nice guy.
As cordial a fighter as there is in this sport, you’d be hard pressed to find a time when the Brazilian isn’t smiling or looking like he’s just having fun riding this rollercoaster that is mixed martial arts.
Dos Santos has never been accused of pulling punches when doing interviews, he’s just a genuinely nice person who rarely has said inflammatory statements about opponents because it’s not his style.
It all seemed to change, however, as Dos Santos found himself face to face with his opponent at UFC 146. The man who will challenge dos Santos on May 26 is former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir, who is just removed from snapping the arm of dos Santos’ mentor and coach Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira last December.
In many of the interviews leading up to the fight, dos Santos has spoken very candidly about his feelings towards Mir’s fighting style and his perceived “lack of heart” when he gets into bad spots. The champion has insisted time and time again, it’s not trash talk and it’s nothing personal, he just thinks Mir folds when the pressure amps up.
“I think Frank Mir is the fighter he’s shown us he is. To me, he doesn’t know how to get out of tough situations. That’s how I see him as a fighter, that’s who and what he is to me. He gives up easily. When he gets into trouble, he gives up. I don’t think he’s a guy who knows how to get out of tough positions and tough situations,” dos Santos told MMAWeekly Radio prior to the fight.
“His fight against Big Nog, his last fight, that was an anomaly. Mir was ready to give up. Minotauro made a mistake, Frank Mir saw it and was able to capitalize on it and take advantage of it, but to me that’s not who the real Frank Mir is. To me that was an anomaly.”
So who does Junior dos Santos believe is the real Frank Mir?
“To me the real Frank Mir is the guy who can’t get out of tough situations, the guy who gives up when he encounters difficulty,” said Dos Santos.
Now with those kinds of statements being made, it would be easy to point to Mir’s win over Nogueira and believe that dos Santos is defending the honor of his coach, his country, and his team.
Unfortunately, dos Santos, while he loves and respects his coach and friend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, insists that this is about the man he’s about to face in the Octagon and nothing more.
There is no act of revenge at play here.
This is about a fighter coming to take away dos Santos’ dream, his livelihood, and his title belt, and simply put he’s not letting anybody do that no matter what their name is.
“Absolutely not there’s no sense of revenge or redemption to me. Those things, those feelings don’t exist for me; it’s a total non-issue. Fights are fights. You never know how they’re going to happen. You never know how they’re going to end. The whole country of Brazil was saddened by the way that Minotauro lost to Frank Mir. Us that were close to him, who know what an incredible person he is, we were all upset, we were all saddened by the loss, but that’s his loss, that’s Big Nog’s issue with Mir. That’s got nothing to do with my fight with Mir,” dos Santos stated.
“I want to fight Mir; I want to beat Mir because I want to stay the champion. He’s the person who is challenging me for my belt. He wants to take my belt; that’s something I hold very dear to me. I’m in a great moment of my career. I’m getting a lot of great opportunities. It’s a good moment for me and my family and I want to maintain that. To maintain that, I’ve got to defend my belt. That’s what motivates me. That’s what motivates me against Frank Mir.”