Junior dos Santos came from the slums of Brazil to capture the UFC heavyweight crown by the age of 27. Now that he’s officially achieved superstardom, dos Santos is taking the opportunity to make dreams come true for the next generation of underprivileged Brazilians.
During his training camp for Frank Mir, Breno Luis Ferreira (Pictured) emerged as a regular observer at the gym. The nine-year-old soon became a favorite among Team 2Santos.
“We love having him in the gym. He’s been coming to the gym so often now he’s become a little friend,” dos Santos shared. “After my last sparring session before flying to the US, he asked me why I had to fight in Vegas, and when I explained he said he wanted to come to help me win.
“He didn’t have a passport, his mother didn’t have a passport but I was a little guy once and people helped me. If we could make the little guy’s dream come true, if we were able somehow, why wouldn’t we?”
Dos Santos then had as many as two dozen officials work on two continents to get everything in order for Breno, his mother Simone and 16-year-old brother Pedro Gabriel to travel and sit Octagonside at UFC 146. The trio touched down at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport on Wednesday and were checked in to an MGM hotel room that was bigger than their home in Salvador.
“At this point in my career, I can be a motivation and role model for these little guys from home,” dos Santos expressed. “The kids see that all the fighters from the gym have good cars; they can see that hard work does lead to something good in life.”
Ferreira got his first taste of UFC action during Wednesday’s media workouts. Dos Santos immediately embraced the “Little Guy” after making eye contact and even took the time to roll with him on the mat.
Guess who Ferreira thought would leave UFC 146 with the strap?
“’Cigano’ is the strongest man in the world,” Ferreira said of his idol. “He can defeat anybody even though he is nice. He will beat Frank Mir on Saturday. I’ve seen him in the gym and he will win with a left hook followed by a big right uppercut. This will be in the first round.”
Please click the media player below to watch Ferreira’s adventures in Vegas: