Dos Santos targets summer return

ESPN staff
January 17, 2014
Dos Santos takes a punch during a gruelling defeat to Cain Velasquez © Getty Images

Former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos has targeted a return to the UFC for 'May or June' this year.

The Brazilian, ranked as the second best heavyweight fighter in the world, has returned to training for the first time since his fifth-round TKO loss to Cain Velasquez at UFC 166 in October.

One potential match-up for the 29-year-old on his return could be against Alistair Overeem, who he has been scheduled to face on two separate occasions - only for the Brit to fail a drugs test in 2012 and then sustain an injury a year later.

Overeem would need to get past Frank Mir at UFC 169 to set up a clash with dos Santos, but the Brazilian's trainer, Luiz Dorea, insists the man known as 'Cigano' is only focused on returning to the ring in better shape than ever rather than who his opponent may be.

"He took some time off and is now back to training," dos Santos' Dorea told MMAFighting.com.

"We're thinking about a fight around May or June, but there's nothing set yet.

"The UFC has great athletes, the best, but a fight that we wanted to see is against Overeem. It was expected to happen before and didn't. But they have great fighters in the UFC, so anything can happen.

"He will fight anyone they want. We have plans to spend some time in the U.S, seek new training. We need to continue to evolve.

"When an athlete thinks he knows everything, it's the beginning of the end. We need to learn new techniques, so we plan to go to the U.S to train wrestling and also train in other gyms in Brazil."

Despite a 10-2 record under the UFC banner Dos Santos has lost two recent bouts to heavyweight champion Velasquez, meaning it is unlikely he will automatically get another shot at the title.

And trainer dos Santos admits they are not dwelling on another shot at the champion just yet.

"We shouldn't think about the title now, we need to work hard and win fights," Dorea said. "To get there, we need to beat other fighters first. It may take a year, maybe more or maybe less, but the title is the consequence of our wins."

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