A matchup between Fighters.com’s seventh-ranked heavyweight “Cigano” Junior dos Santos (9-1) and former UFC title challenger “Napão” Gabriel Gonzaga (11-4) is in the works, Fighters.com has confirmed with a source close to one of the fighters.
Fighters.com hasn’t confirmed the date of the fight and no contracts are signed. If the matchup is in December, it’s likely to occur at UFC 107 at the FedExForum in Memphis December 12. However, according to unconfirmed reports, that card is already stacked with pay-per-view quality matchups. UFC 108 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas January 2 and is also a likely event for the matchup.
“Cigano” forced once-feared “Cro Cop” Mirko Filipovic (25-8-2) to quit at 2:00 of round three at UFC 103 in Dallas September 19. Gonzaga TKO’d Chris Tuchscherer (15-2) in 2:27 at UFC 102. Dos Santos’s only loss is by armbar submission while Gonzaga is a notoriously skilled and powerful submission grappler, making the matchup keenly interesting.
The matchup also continues a trend in the UFC of Brazilians fighting Brazilians in big fights.
The UFC 104 main event in Los Angeles October 24 will pit Fighters.com and UFC light heavyweight champion “Dragon” Lyoto Machida (15-0) versus sixth-ranked “Shogun” Mauricio Rua (18-3), both Brazilians. At UFC 106 in Las Vegas November 11, Big Nog’s brother, “Minotoro” Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (15-3), will debut in the UFC versus seventh-ranked light heavyweight “Banha” Luis Arthur Cane (8-1). Second-ranked welterweight “Pitbull” Thiago Alves (16-4) and fellow Brazilian fifth-ranked Paulo Thiago (7-1) will fight at UFC 107 along with a middleweight matchup between “Toquinho” Rousimar Palhares (11-3) and “Spartan” Lucio Linhares (12-3). Finally, at UFC 108 Fighters.com and UFC Middleweight Champion “Spider” Anderson Silva (25-4) will defend his titles from “Phenom” Vitor Belfort (18-8).
Perhaps the sudden trend of Brazilian-on-Brazilian violence in the UFC is simply the result of the increasing prominence of Brazilian fighters. However, it could also be preparation for the UFC’s promised return to Brazil.
At UFC 102, UFC President Dana White promised an upcoming UFC event in Brazil, the first since 1998. “What we’re starting to do is ramp up down in Brazil right now. We just hired this big PR firm, we got a television deal down there. The ratings are kicking ass. We’re going to start getting a lot of these guys who deserve to be seen and known by the Brazilian fans. That’s what we’re working on now. That’s our footprint. We go in there, we start on free televsion, and then we bring a live event down,” White told Tatame.