Junior dos Santos, the former UFC heavyweight champion, sees the potential for Salvador native Jailton Almeida to follow in his footsteps and bring the heavyweight championship to their hometown in the near future. Almeida, also known as “Malhadinho,” has been on a winning streak since joining the UFC, with five dominant victories, including a recent impressive performance against Jairzinho Rozenstruik in Charlotte. Dos Santos believes that Almeida possesses the qualities necessary to succeed in the division.
According to dos Santos, Almeida’s speed and body control set him apart from other heavyweights, who tend to be slower in their movements. While heavyweights are known for their power and danger, their lack of speed allows opponents to anticipate their actions. Dos Santos sees tremendous potential in Almeida and believes he has what it takes to reach the top of the division, and he pledges his support for Almeida’s journey.
Following his dominant victory in Charlotte, Almeida climbed to the No. 6 spot in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings, trailing behind Francis Ngannou, Jon Jones, Sergei Pavlovich, Ciryl Gane, and Curtis Blaydes. Ngannou recently joined the PFL but is not expected to compete in MMA until 2024, while Jones currently holds the UFC title. However, Jones is expected to defend his title against Stipe Miocic in his next fight. Dos Santos emphasizes that new stars like Almeida are emerging, shaping the future of the heavyweight division.
Jones has hinted at retirement if he defeats Miocic in his first title defense later in 2023, and dos Santos expresses his disappointment at the possibility. He believes that Jones, who is still young, would be wasting his talent if he were to retire soon. However, dos Santos acknowledges that the decision ultimately lies with Jones, and he should do what he believes is best for his career.
Almeida has called for a fight against Tai Tuivasa following his recent main event victory. Although Tuivasa has previously lost to dos Santos, he has rebounded with notable knockouts over other opponents. Dos Santos admires how Almeida outclasses his adversaries on the ground and isn’t afraid to assert himself regardless of the opponent’s style. If Almeida were to face Tuivasa next, dos Santos predicts that Almeida would be the clear favorite, acknowledging Tuivasa’s toughness but expressing confidence in Almeida’s abilities.