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Junior Dos Santos thought about boxing, Bellator, PFL and bare-knuckle boxing, but ended up in the pro wrestling ring – and he loves it.
After making an appearance on All Elite Wrestling’s “AEW Dynamite” show earlier this month, the former UFC heavyweight champion will make his professional wrestling debut Friday in a six-man tag-team match. He’ll partner with AEW wrestlers Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky against Chris Jericho, Jake Hager and Sammy Guevara.
Dos Santos hasn’t officially inked a deal with AEW, but is certainly open to making pro wrestling his new home.
“Not yet – but maybe,” Dos Santos told MMA Junkie. “The one responsible for this is this man right there, Dan Lambert. He brought some of us to the shows at AEW, and I was just impressed with that. I remember I enjoyed watching some pro wrestling matches, but I wasn’t really following it. Once I was there and I could see how things worked, I was impressed and I said, ‘Man, this is amazing. I want to be a part of it. I want to be in that ring, too.’ So things started to happen, and here we are, close to our debut.
“Why not? I’m not going to say no. I really enjoy this. I’m happy doing it. I’m enjoying participating in this and the challenge it’s been for me. It feels great, actually. I was looking forward to having a next fight and here I am, close to fighting again in a pro wrestling match, and I feel good about it.”
Dos Santos, who was released by the UFC in March, is starting to have a growing appreciation for the physical demand that pro wrestling has on the body. He sees numerous similarities between MMA and pro wrestling, especially when facing a big crowd.
“The biggest one is to have a good performance,” Dos Santos said. “You have to put on a good show for all the crowd, all the people that will be there cheering for us. And it goes the same (as MMA) – to have a good performance and get a good victory with yourself. I’m just impressed with this whole (pro wrestling) world. Back in the day, I didn’t even imagine how big it was.
“I’m just impressed with everything and how hard these guys get prepared for this – (and) how hard it is for them, as well. You’ve got to train a lot. You’ve got to put yourself in a very good preparation to be 100 percent, to go there and have a good performance. That’s the main thing that attracted me on this thing. I said, ‘Wow, this is amazing. These guys go hard. I want to do some of that,’ and here I am doing it.”