One former UFC heavyweight champion has high hopes for rising prospect Jailton Almeida making it all the way to the title in the near future. While ‘Malhadinho’ called out Tai Tuivasa after his latest victory, Junior dos Santos has reason to believe that the man who hails from the same city (Salvador, Bahia) as the ex-champ has what it takes to win a belt, too.
The ex-champ has high hopes for Jailton Almeida
In an interview on MMA Fighting’s podcast Trocacao Franca, ‘Cigano’ explained why he sees so much potential in his countryman. For the ex-champ, Almeida simply has the full set of skills that make an athlete stand out in the heavyweight division. In dos Santos’ opinion, while most athletes in that weight class are plodding, Malhadinho moves swiftly yet still hard-hitting.
“I think he has a lot of potential and this is just the beginning,” dos Santos said. “He’s fast as hell and works really well with his body. The thing about heavyweights is that they usually are slow. They hit hard, they are strong and dangerous, but they are slow, so you can anticipate some of the movements of the heavier ones. I see great potential in him. He has everything it takes to get there, and we’ll be cheering for him.”
Jailton Almeida called out Tai Tuivasa after his last win
Though the potential match against Tuivasa is nothing but a post-fight callout at this point, Cigano is sure that Malhadinho would be the favorite to win it should the pairing actually come into fruition. Given that ‘Bam Bam’ was one of the last men dos Santos defeated in the Octagon, the ex-champ may be speaking from experience, too. However, ‘JDS’ also pointed out the appraisal Almeida received from UFC president Dana White to further drive his point home.
“New stars will rise, prospects, like Jailton Malhadinho” dos Santos said. “Malhadinho is on a roll, he’s doing great. UFC president Dana White himself said he has his hopes high for him. I remember it was similar back in my days and I felt a huge incentive, I’ve felt the prestige, I felt pushed. People see how hard you work and the results come. The future of the heavyweight division is being made now. Some are stopping, others are rising.”
“He’s 100 percent the favorite against Tuivasa,” dos Santos said. “Not taking anything away from Tuivasa, he’s super tough, but…”
Almeida is still undefeated in the UFC
In his last outing, Almeida (19-2) scored his fifth straight UFC win when he defeated Jairzinho Rozenstruik via submission on May 13. The victory came after Malhadinho had already defeated Shamil Abdurakhimov, Anton Turkalj, Parker Porter and Danilo Marques in his other Octagon outings. In fact, the 31-year-old’s last loss dates back to a unanimous decision defeat to Bruno Assis, back in January 2018.
Meanwhile, Junior dos Santos (21-10) is on a five-fight losing skid, with knockout losses to Yorgan de Castro, Ciryl Gane, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Curtis Blaydes and Francis Ngannou. The 39-year-old’s last win dates back to March 2019, when he TKO’d Derrick Lewis. The ex-champ’s knockout win over Tuivasa took place just before that, in December 2018.
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