Junior dos Santos Talks Gamebred BKMMA Title Win

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Junior dos Santos clinched the Gamebred Bareknuckle MMA heavyweight championship title with a powerful knockout of Alan Belcher, marking a significant victory. However, dos Santos endured significant facial damage during the bout.

While grappling with Belcher against the cage early in the fight, dos Santos managed to break free but was met with a punch that severely displaced his nose. Throughout the remainder of the match, the former UFC heavyweight champion soldiered on with a visible facial laceration and a nose that was displaced in multiple places.

Dos Santos vividly recalls the moment of impact, yet surprisingly, he experienced no immediate sensation of pain. In his interview with MMA Fighting, dos Santos recounted the incident.

Junior dos Santos on Bareknuckle Title Win: “It feels very special.”

“The only punch that really connected on me was the one that broke my nose. When he broke it, I felt it. You can see in the video, I felt my nose go to the side [of my face] and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, I broke my nose!’ I didn’t feel anything but, ‘I broke my nose again!’ Broken nose, a lot of blood, and it makes a very bloody fight, but that was it. It was bothering me a little bit because I couldn’t breathe through the nose anymore, but we handled it very, very well.

“That was crazy. You can see clearly, actually I know the moment — he threw a hook while I’m on the cage and I kind of pulled back and the hook only connected on the nose. I didn’t feel anything but I felt that [the nose] go to the side and I said, ‘Oh no, again?’ Then I was having trouble breathing through the nose. I said OK, I’ll breathe through the mouth, it’s normal.”

Remarkably, this was the fourth instance of dos Santos breaking his nose, but the first time it occurred during a fight. Despite his extensive combat sports career spanning nearly two decades, dos Santos had never encountered a broken nose in the midst of a bout. Nevertheless, drawing from past experiences helped him confront the challenge posed by Belcher’s punch, which hindered his breathing.

“The other three times — two of them were in training, the first time and the third. The second time, the doctor broke my nose because he was fixing it, but it didn’t work out because the second time he fixed it, I broke it again. I said I’m not going to fix it anymore until after I stop fighting. So now was the fourth time I had my nose broken.”

“I didn’t feel anything. I just felt like it was to the side and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to have to breathe through my mouth now.’ But maybe the experience brought me something positive about it because if I never had my nose broken, I could get too excited or maybe a lot of fear or whatever. Because I already knew how to deal with that, I said let’s go. I didn’t feel anything when it got broken with the punch, he connected only on the nose. When they put it back, it went back to the right place, I didn’t feel anything too. It was easy. Maybe I was too warmed up, which was good because I don’t like feeling pain.”

In the aftermath of the fight, after the doctor once again put his nose back in place, dos Santos immediately started feeling better. Days later, he was breathing normally again.

Because his nose has been broken so many times, dos Santos understands there’s a good chance it could happen again, but that’s also why he’s decided not to undergo any surgeries to repair the damage done until his career is over.

“The doctor was telling me, ‘Oh my gosh, your septum is so messed up, we’ve got to do surgery or something.’ I said, ‘Don’t worry, doctor, it’s been like that for years already. ‘Don’t worry about it.’”

“The way it is now is the same as it was before. I can breathe very well through the right side, and [the left side] is a little harder to breathe, but [the right] is great. So let’s keep that for a little bit more.”

Despite the physical toll, dos Santos found solace in his triumph over Belcher, achieved through a dominant display of punches in the second round. This victory holds particular significance for the 40-year-old veteran, who endured setbacks and a lengthy hiatus due to a shoulder injury before returning to competition in September. Now on a two-fight winning streak, dos Santos looks forward to resuming his endeavors once his nasal injuries have fully healed.

“It feels very special. I’m feeling great. I’m feeling like it’s new beginning for me again. The way I can see the fights now and I’m handling myself, not just physically but mentally, going into the fights — with all the fights, I’m doing that much better. Even during the fight, when I broke my nose, I’m finally having fun during the fights. I’m really enjoying my fights, because I never did before.”

“Because all my fights before, I used to fight myself before the fight. Now, with the experience I have, I’m not putting pressure [on myself] anymore. I’m just going there to put on a good performance and to put on a good show for all the fans out there. Things have been in a completely different way for me. I’m really enjoying it, I’m having fun.”

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