Junior dos Santos to Make Wrestling Debut This Week for All Elite Wrestling

Junior dos Santos is movin’ from the Octagon to the ring…

The 37-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist and former UFC light heavyweight champion will make his professional wrestling match debut on Friday for All Elite Wrestling (AEW).

Junior Dos Santos

The news comes after his release from the UFC earlier this year.

And dos Santos told ESPN on Wednesday that he is also in talks about making his debut in boxing.

“Let’s see,” dos Santos said. “I’ve been having some good conversations, even on boxing. Boxing, I think, would be the perfect way for me to go. I’m a boxing guy, everybody knows that. I’ve never had an official pro boxing fight. Maybe this is the time.”

Dos Santos didn’t go into detail about when he might fight in boxing or who the opponent could be, because he said he’s focusing right now on his work with AEW.

On Friday, “Cigano” will team with wrestlers Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky in a tag-team match against wrestling legend Chris JerichoJake Hager (who also fights for Bellator) and Sammy Guevara.

The match is part of an AEW storyline that involves dos Santos’ American Top Team MMA team backing up Page and Sky with American Top Team owner Dan Lambert as their on-screen manager.

Dos Santos and several other ATT fighters — including UFC veteran Paige VanZant, former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski and PFL champion Kayla Harrison — made their first AEW appearances as part of this storyline in August and September. Some have gotten physical in segments, but dos Santos will be the first one to actually wrestle in a match.

“I wasn’t really a big fan of it [before],” dos Santos said. “But this thing changed a lot. After Dan Lambert invited me to go there and see how hard it is. It’s not a joke, man. Those guys, they go hard. And they have to be very well-prepared for that. So, then when I saw all of it, I got very interested in it. And then I said, ‘Man, I want to do it.’ Ask Dan Lambert. I was saying, ‘Man, I need to be in that ring.'”

dos Santos said the most “amazing” thing for him was the loud, raucous pro wrestling crowds and how they interacted with the show.

“That type of energy was amazing to feel,” dos Santos said. “A long time, I don’t feel this way. Long time, I don’t feel this excited to go in the ring and perform and give the best of me and my performance. Man, I’m looking forward to Friday night.

“Back in the day, in the UFC and MMA itself, I was feeling kind of pressure all the time. I wasn’t being appreciated to be there. Now, it’s different. People love me to be there, even if they don’t like me. They are showing that.”

dos Santos was released by the UFC in March following four straight losses, though they all came against elite heavyweights.

dos Santos held the UFC heavyweight title in 2011 and 2012. He owns MMA victories over former UFC champions Stipe MiocicCain VelasquezFabricio Werdum and Frank Mir.

This weekend, dos Santos will be in a pro wrestling ring. But don’t be surprised to see him in a boxing ring at some point in the future, either.

“Let’s see what’s gonna happen next, but the boxing thing would be amazing,” dos Santos said. “As you guys know, I love knocking people out. I love punching people in the face. That would be a good way to go.”

Cain Velasquez in Talks to Join WWE Full Time

Cain Velasquezis wrestling with change…

The 37-year-old Mexican American mixed martial artist and wrestler isofficially stepping out of the Octagon and into the pro-wrestling ring for the foreseeable future.

Cain Velasquez 

Velasquez, a two-time UFC heavyweight champion, is in advanced talks to sign with WWE

He made a surprise appearance on Friday on WWE SmackDown‘s Fox premiere at Staples Center, confronting Brock Lesnarin the closing moments of the show. Velasquez said he was not officially retired from the UFC, but pro wrestling is likely to be his focus right now.

Velasquez said no deal has been signed, and he also has been in discussions with other wrestling promotions, including upstart All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

WWE could look to set up a blockbuster match between Velasquez and Lesnar, also a former UFC heavyweight champion. 

Velasquez knocked out Lesnar to win the UFC belt in 2010. Coincidentally, Velasquez headlined the UFC’s first show on Fox in 2011, and Friday he was a major part of WWE’s Fox premiere, walking to the ring with Rey Mysterio and hitting Lesnar with a double-leg takedown.

Velasquez debuted in pro wrestling in August with Mexico’s Lucha Libre AAA. Velasquez is a celebrity in Mexico due to his UFC success and how he has marketed himself in the country. The 6-foot-2, 250-pound California native impressed at AAA’s Triplemaniashow in front of 18,000 at Mexico City Arena, pulling off athletic moves that were unexpected for a man his size.

Last month, Velasquez had a second match for AAA at Madison Square Garden‘s Hulu Theatre and his ability once again turned heads. The MMA star has been training full time in pro wrestling only since June, at Pro Wrestling Revolution in San Jose, California. 

Velasquez has been doing it all with multiple torn ligaments in his left knee, an injury he suffered in a knockout loss to Francis Ngannouat UFC Phoenix in February.

Velasquez (14-3) is one of the most accomplished fighters in UFC history. He won the UFC heavyweight belt in 2010, and then again in 2012. Velasquez owns victories over the likes of Junior Dos Santos(twice), Antonio Rodrigo Nogueiraand Lesnar. Injuries to his knees, back and shoulders marred his run atop the division. Velasquez has fought just three times since 2013. He dropped the heavyweight title to Fabricio Werdumin 2015 and rebounded to beat Travis Browneat UFC 200 in 2016.

In 2018, Velasquez trained at WWE’s Performance Centerto see if he could physically work a match in the ring. He drew rave reviews from coaches there, but things didn’t work out at that time with WWE as far as a contract, and he ended up signing a short-term deal with AAA.

After his two appearances for AAA in August and September, Velasquez saw the interest in him increase. WWE came back to the table.

“We’ve talked a little bit back and forth and nothing happened,” Velasquez said. “They wanted to see my development. I think they’re pleased with what I’m doing now.”

Velasquez’s interest in pro wrestling comes at a particularly busy moment in pro wrestling history. The emergence of AEW, owned by the Khan family, which also owns the Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham FC, is the first major effort to enter a space dominated by WWE for 20 years. Additionally, WWE signed TV contracts valued at over $1 billion to bring SmackDown to Fox and extend Monday Night Raw on the USA Network.

Velasquez would join the likes of Lesnar and Ronda Rouseyas former UFC champions in WWE. WWE also has UFC veterans Matt Riddleand Shayna Baszlerunder contract.

“This is definitely my focus,” Velasquez said of pro wrestling. “My family is into it, they love it. They’re super excited. I haven’t seen them excited over something like this in a while. It’s cool.”