WHO: Former UFC heavyweight champion of the world and current top contender Junior dos Santos
WHAT: The Tiramisu martini paired with the Polpo alla Griglia con Arugula of grilled octopus, cannellini beans, lemon and olive oil; the Tonnarelli a Cacio e Pepe, a thick spaghetti pasta with creamy pecorino and black pepper sauce; and the Costata alla Fiorentia, a grilled 48 ounce T-bone steak with smoked salt and warm olive oil infused with garlic, rosemary and Tuscan seasoning
WHERE: Cafe Med Ristorante at the Wyndham / 2096 NE Second St., Deerfield Beach / 954.596.5840 / cafemeddeerfield.com / @cafemed
When I was a little boy I thought I would grow up to become: a doctor. I always wanted to be a doctor. My mother had varicose veins because I was a very heavy baby. My dream was to become a doctor and cure that condition. I never became a doctor, but I paid for one to fix my mother.
The reason I became a fighter in the first place was: because I was very poor and without opportunity. If I had stayed in my hometown of Caçador (Brazil), that was never going to change, so when I was 18 I moved to Salvador, a bigger city, to make better opportunities for my life. I was washing dishes, and I was selling toys. I was getting fat so I found a gym where I could work out. In this gym they had jiujitsu. I went to lose weight, but after a year and a half my coach told me that it was time for me to be tested. I was very nervous for my first fight. I was to fight a man who had seven fights before. But I won. The feeling that I had that night was that this was what I wanted to do with my life until I no longer could do it.
Even as a world champion heavyweight fighter, something that makes me cry is: when I think about my dad, and how tough life can be. My father encouraged me to leave my city. He wasn’t living with us anymore. He said, “If you have enough courage, you’re going to find work, just go. You’re going to be fine. You can do whatever you want in life.” While I was preparing for my second fight, he passed away. I didn’t get to be there. He knew that I was doing well. I heard that he had been talking to his friends about me, that he was very, very proud of me. He didn’t get to see who I became, who I am today. I would have liked for my dad to have seen that I succeeded.
Becoming the father of a baby boy changed me: completely. Everything changed. My goals completely changed. Today it’s all about him. Everything that I think about the future, I think about him. I used to go out with friends. Now I just want to go home. I know that he’s waiting for me. He looks at me with the biggest smile. Every time. He comes crawling to me, laughing. It is an unbelievable feeling.
A proud native Brazilian, Junior dos Santos first displayed his work ethic and loyalty to family at age 10, finding work to assist his single mother. Compiling a remarkable record of 18 wins, 12 by knockout, with just five losses in his professional mixed-martial arts career, dos Santos won the UFC heavyweight championship of the world during the first ever UFC on FOX 1 worldwide TV broadcast in November 2011 with a knockout of the legendary Cain Velasquez just 64 seconds into the first round.
Dos Santos relocated to the United States in August 2015 to train on a full-time basis at the revered American Top Team Coconut Creek gym. A devoted family man, Junior dos Santos enjoys nothing more than spending time with his son and wife, Isadora, at their Coral Springs home.
ABOUT THE DRINK:
The Tiramisu martini
1 ounce RumChata
1 ounce Kahlúa
1 ounce Dark Godiva
1 ounce Half-and-half
Pour all ingredients into shaker and add ice. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds, then strain into a martini glass and garnish with a lady finger.