Junior Dos Santos Admits He Was “Completely Lost” Prior to Gamebred Bareknuckle MMA Debut

Junior Dos Santos will be looking for gold when he returns to action at Gamebred Bareknuckle MMA 7 this weekend, in a different sort of MMA fight.

Gamebred Bareknuckle is MMA sans gloves, which Dos Santos noted in a recent interview with Cageside Press means “the punch has much more power against you.”

“Cigano” made his debut for Jorge Masvidal’s upstart promotion last year, beating Fabricio Werdum in a rematch over a decade in the making.

On that experience, Dos Santos explained that “once the guy is getting hit with a few punches, he doesn’t want to get hit anymore because it’s painful and opens up cuts on your face and things like that. And also the guy who’s hitting the other one, he cannot put 100% power on the punches, because you can break your hand as well. The gloves are there to protect your hands, not the face of your opponent. So that was very interesting, it really is. It was a good experience, and I felt good about the fight.”

Dos Santos highlighted his reliance on footwork, which also served him well. “For me it worked very well in that fight. To tell you the truth, I felt like home. That’s the kind of challenge that really excites me, and that’s the kind of feeling I’m bringing to this fight now.”

The win against Werdum was the first in years for JDS, who exited the UFC on a four-fight skid that found him finished on four consecutive occasions. A bounce-back fight against Yorgan de Castro under the Eagle FC banner also went sideways when Dos Santos injured his shoulder in the fight.

With that in mind, the Werdum fight was key for Dos Santos, who admits to being “completely lost” following the long string of setbacks.

“I got all my faith renewed in my last fight. I was kind of finding myself again, because I was completely lost. That’s the truth. All the negative results I was having before, I was trying to be that good employee all the time. Trying to follow instructions and represent very well all the time, not say no to anything,” Dos Santos explained. “And that’s not the way things need to happen, especially at this time in my career. Actually in anyone’s career.”

“There’s some moments, you’ve got to understand that you need to say no for a few things, to take your time, to work better. Especially on your psychological. The psychological part of the game, for me, it’s the heaviest one. I was completely lost like I said, I was just pushing forward trying to fix things, and in truth I was accumulating things, the broken things. That was kind of a mistake.”

Junior Dos Santos eventually took time to himself, and rallied around those close to him. Seeing the situation as a message from the divine telling him to slow down, he added that his first Gamebred Bareknuckle bout “was the first fight in my whole career I fought only my opponent. I didn’t fight myself before[hand].”

Next up for Dos Santos is Alan Belcher, who picked up a controversial decision over Roy Nelson in his last outing. The inaugural Gamebred Bareknuckle MMA heavyweight title is on the line.

“He has pretty good boxing skills, he’s got a good jab and things like that. He’s a warrior, he goes for the fight, he doesn’t back up from a good fight. I think that’s the most important point about him,” Dos Santos said of his opponent this Saturday. “I know he’s going to be there hungry for this victory, he’s going to come out very strong against me. And that makes me even more excited for this fight, because I’m ready for that.”

“I can’t wait actually, to show all those new guys what I can do when I’m feeling the way I’m feeling right now,” added the former UFC champ. “It’s kind of a new start for me, I just discovered myself against as a fighter. It makes me feel very good and very excited, because I know I still have, even [at] 40 years old, I still have a lot to show.”

Watch our full interview with Gamebred Bareknuckle MMA 7’s Junior Dos Santos above.