Dos Santos Flew Nine-Year-Old To UFC 146
Posted on 26 May 2012
by MMAScoops.com Staff
Junior Dos Santos (14-1 MMA, 8-0 UFC) flew in 9-year-old Breno Luis Ferreira de Carvalho in from Salvador, Brazil to see his fight at UFC 146 in Las Vegas.
Ferreira arrived with his mother Simone and 16-year-old brother Pedro Gabriel after being shown on UFC Primetime begging Dos Santos to take him to America for the fight. The family arrived at McCarran International Airport Wednesday morning. They are currently staying at a hotel in the MGM Grand, paid for by Dos Santos and the UFC.
Ferreira said through a translator: "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."
Dos Santos won the UFC Heavyweight title in November after knocking out Cain Velasquez in 64 seconds on UFC on FOX 1. His first title defense is tonight against former champion Frank Mir.
Dos Santos said of his new friend: "It's good to have Breno here. 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 U.S., 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, and 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 in North and South America, including armed bodyguards, found Ferreira's family and got the requisite paperwork together for a trip to the US. The family previously lived in a desolate shantytown full of crime, although Salvador is the third largest city in Brazil behind Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
His mother, Simone, said: "It's amazing, more than a movie. It's one thing to see in a movie, but another thing to see personally. We are very appreciative of UFC. They are helping him realize his dream. We need to grab this with all our strength. Who knows? Maybe tomorrow he could be a fighter too."
Dos Santos' coach Carlos Dorea (a crime investigator for the civil police in Salvador) hopes the trip will motivate not only Ferreira, but other young fighters who train in his Champions Gym in Salvador. He says the trip will be harder when Ferreira is forced to go back to where he lives.
He added: "He is really poor like 'Cigano' was. He came here and saw a reality that is not his reality. He has to be very careful with these different realities. He saw this kind of thing on TV, so it's important for him to make sure that it is indeed real. I think people will support him to keep on the right track. God permitting, he keeps going this right way."
Dos Santos said: "When I was a kid, I watched judo classes and imaged that I could be one of them one day. I think it's the same way for him. I think this opportunity is going to be unforgettable for him."
Ferreira was allowed to shadow box with several fighters during their media workouts, including Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva (who meets Velasquez in the co-main event). He was also shown at the press conference on Thursday, trying to figure out how his face appeared on the monitor and pointing at it. He was able to be on stage during the weigh-ins with UFC president Dana White on Friday.
Ferreria also predicted who will win between Dos Santos and Mir. He said: "'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."