Cigano on facing Gabriel Gonzaga

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With four wins in the UFC, all by knockout, Junior “Cigano” dos Santos has a special place among the organization’s heavyweights. Coming off his win over Gilbert Yvel on January 2, the fighter already has his next bout scheduled. On March 21 Cigano will face Jiu-Jitsu black belt Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC on Versus 1. The hard hitter from Minotauro Team spoke with and spoke of what he expects from this next challenge.

Cigano hits Yvel hard. Photo: Josh Hedges

Cigano hits Yvel hard. Photo: Josh Hedges

You will practically not have any rest after your last victory. Do you feel that will hinder you?

I’m happy to have this next opportunity. It’s a good fight for me. Napão is a tough and dangerous guy, but I’m in rhythm and I believe it will be enough time to prepare myself. I’m happy about the UFC’s decision.

You were supposed to have faced Napão in your last matchup, but he had a health problem and gave up his place to Gilbert Yvel. Does the fact you’ve studied and trained for him help?

I think so. As you said, I was already studying him and my training was totally geared to facing him. I’ll take that up again and focus on his way of fighting again to set up my strategy.

Your success in the UFC, up until now, has come by way of striking and your only loss in 11 fights came on the ground. Have you applied yourself to Jiu-Jitsu, which may be Gonzaga’s main weapon this fight?

I’ve done a lot of ground fighting, very frequently. Also, I train Jiu-Jitsu every day, just as I train boxing. Before the fight with Yvel, for example, Demian Maia dropped by Bahia and I trained with him. In Rio Feijão helps me out a lot. I have the help of a lot of first-rate black belts. I think I’m up to date on the ground and I may even surprise people there.

Minotauro by submission,” Junior Cigano

Your teammate who is also in your division in the UFC Rodrigo Minotauro faces Cain Velasquez on February 20. What is your assessment of Velasquez for this fight?

Cain is a great fighter, has a lot of gas and really good wrestling. He’s from the top team in the United States. I believe his strategy will be to fight for three rounds. He will surely get the takedown, but the fight ends with Minotauro by submission. Velasquez is good, but Rodrigo’s technique on the ground and striking is well superior. Therefore, I think his way out will be to get the takedown and try to drag things out on the ground.

Check out the card:

UFC on Versus 1
March 21, 2010

Jon Jones vs Brandon Vera
Junior Dos Santos vs Gabriel Gonzaga
John Howard vs Anthony Johnson
Clay Guida vs Sean Sherk
Spencer Fisher vs Duane “Bang” Ludwig
Eliot Marshall vs Vladimir Matyushenko
Chase Gormley vs Brendan Schaub

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