Video: UFC Heavyweight Champ Makes Kid’s Dream Come True
May 25, 2012 - by Steve Gerweck
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 24, 2012
UFC® HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMP MAKES KID’S DREAM COME TRUE
NINE-YEAR OLD FROM SALVADOR FLOWN IN TO SEE HERO DEFEND BELT AT
UFC® 146: THE HEAVYWEIGHTS
Las Vegas, Nevada – Reigning UFC® heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos may be wrapped in UFC gold now, but there was a time where he was just another poor kid from Brazil, dreaming of one day becoming a fighter and making a better life for himself.
Nicknamed ‘Cigano’ after a character in a Brazilian soap opera he resembled, dos Santos grew up in poverty in Caçador, southern Brazil. He gravitated to the judo and jiu-jitsu fighters who trained in a local gym, and fantasized about becoming a martial artist. Dos Santos chased this dream all the way to the neon lights of Las Vegas, where on Saturday night he headlines the huge UFC® 146 Pay-Per-View as the most dangerous mixed martial artist on earth.
Now it is dos Santos who inspires other kids’ dreams. As he made his final preparations before flying to Vegas for his bout with two-time champ Frank Mir, dos Santos was taken aside by Breno Luis Ferreira, a nine-year-old boy who, for months on end, had shown up to the champion’s gym in Salvador to watch his hero train.
The champion said: “As soon as school ends, Breno always appears. We love having him in the gym. He’s been coming to the gym so often now he’s become a little friend. We call him the Little Guy. 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?”
Two dozen officials and worked on two continents to get everything in order for Breno, his mother Simone and 16-year-old brother Pedro Gabriel to travel to the US in time to be Octagonside for Saturday’s event. They touched down at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport on Wednesday and were checked in to a MGM hotel room bigger than their home in Salvador.
Speaking through a translator, Breno said: “It’s just so exciting being here in Las Vegas. Even to get to sit on an airplane was like a dream. I could see all things out of the window, big buildings and we were really high above them, flying like a dream. Our room here is so nice and everyone is being so nice to me, but I’m here to help Cigano defend his title.”
“Cigano is the strongest man in the world. 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.”
Dos Santos is happy to have his friend in town. He said: “He really likes to watch and he’s fun to have around. He’s not shy at all. He’s a mischievous kid, he’s always laughing.”
“Before I left for Las Vegas, he jumped into the ring and shouted ‘Now I am a Junior dos Santos! The UFC champion! I am Cigano! I will knock you all out!’ and he challenged the other kids to a pretend fight. He is a little louder than the real ‘Cigano’ but he is so excited every time he is in the gym.”
“At this point in my career, I can be a motivation and role model for these little guys from home. 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.”
Please find below video package of Breno’s trip thus far:
UFC® 146: DOS SANTOS vs. MIR will be available live on Pay-Per-View at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on UFC.TV, iN DEMAND, DirecTV, DISH Network, Avail-TVN, and in Canada on BellTV, Shaw Communications, Sasktel, and Viewer’s Choice Canada for a suggested retail price of $44.99 US/$49.99 CAN for Standard Definition and $54.99 US/$59.99 CAN for High Definition.
Reigning UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos will defend his crown against former two-time champion Frank Mir and former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez – now fully healed from his knee injury – returns to action against the dangerous Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva.
Plus, on the first ever all-heavyweight UFC card, Roy Nelson takes on Dave Herman, unbeaten heavies Stipe Miocic and Shane Del Rosario collide, and 6ft 11.5inch Stefan Struve takes on KO specialist Lavar Johnson.
ABOUT THE UFC
Universally recognized for its action-packed, can’t-miss events that have sold out some of the biggest arenas and stadiums across the globe, the UFC® is the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization. Owned and operated by Zuffa, LLC, headquartered in Las Vegas and with offices in London, Toronto and Beijing, UFC® produces more than 30 live events annually and is the largest Pay-Per-View event provider in the world. In 2011, the UFC burst into the mainstream with a landmark seven-year broadcast agreement with FOX Sports Media Group. The agreement includes four live events broadcast on the FOX network annually, with additional fight cards and thousands of hours of programming broadcast on FOX properties FX and FUEL TV. This includes the longest-running sports reality show on television, The Ultimate Fighter®, which now airs on FX in an exciting new live format.
In addition to its reach on FOX, UFC programming is broadcast in over 149 countries and territories, to nearly one billion homes worldwide, in 20 different languages. UFC content is also distributed commercially in the United States to bars and restaurants through Joe Hand Promotions and in English throughout Canada via Premium Sports Broadcasting Inc. and in Quebec through Interbox. The UFC also connects with tens of millions of fans through its website, UFC.com, as well as social media sites Facebook and Twitter. UFC President Dana White is considered one of the most accessible and followed executives in sports, with over two million followers on Twitter. Ancillary UFC businesses include best-selling DVDs, an internationally distributed magazine, UFC.TV offering live event broadcasts and video on demand around the world, the best-selling UFC Undisputed® video game franchise distributed by THQ, UFC GYM®, UFC Fight Club affinity program, UFC Fan Expo® festivals, branded apparel and trading cards.