More than 15,000 fans are expected to file into the MGM Grand this Saturday night to watch Junior dos Santos defend his divisional title against Frank Mir in the main event at UFC 146. While the bulk of them will be rooting one way or another come showtime none will be as loud in their support of the champion as nine-year old Breno Luis Ferreira.
Fans may remember Ferreira from last week’s episode of UFC Primetime when he asked Dos Santos if he could go with him to Las Vegas for the fight. At the time “Cigano” indulged the child’s interest by saying it was a possibility, though in reality it seemed unlikely anything would come from the exchange other than a nice moment in front of the cameras.
However, as it turns out Dos Santos did in fact fly Ferreira to Vegas along with his mother and teenage brother to take part in the process while simultaneously fulfilling the wish of an impoverished child and showing him good things happen to good people who dedicate themselves to positive endeavors.
“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,” asked Dos Santos rhetorically in a UFC video documenting the process. “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.”
Based on some comments it appears Ferreira has certainly enjoyed the experience thus far with his assessment of the situation likely warming even the coldest heart.
“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,” explained Ferreira after referring to his hotel room being as large as his house in Salvador, Brazil. “‘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 will enter the Octagon as champion with status as the #1 heavyweight in the sport. Whether he exits it with the same two distinctions in tow remains to be seen. Still, it is clear that in the eyes of one lucky boy the label placed on the 27-year old title-holder will not change regardless of what happens once the cage door closes – that of hero.
Check out a video of Ferreira’s journey with some initial build from the episode of UFC Primetime:
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC