After missing the majority of 2016 with a shoulder injury, Junior dos Santos says he's healthy, in shape and ready to recapture the UFC heavyweight championship that was once his.
The only problem, dos Santos says, is the UFC can't find him a fight.
Dos Santos (18-4) was scheduled to fight Stefan Struve at UFC Fight Night on Feb. 19 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but that matchup was officially scrapped Thursday when Struve announced he had suffered a shoulder injury himself.
The UFC attempted to replace Struve with Fabricio Werdum, but Werdum declined. Outside of Werdum, dos Santos doesn't see many options. He's currently still training to compete on Feb. 19, but admits he's concerned he won't have an opponent.
"The right thing now would be for me to fight Werdum," dos Santos told ESPN.com. "Everybody knows there is a rivalry between us. That would be a great moment for everybody, but he doesn't want the fight."
According to Werdum's manager, Ali Abdelaziz, Werdum is currently focused on a series of international seminars he is planning to host. Werdum has also taken a pretty hard stance that he deserves the next title shot against champion Stipe Miocic.
"Fabricio didn't get paid for UFC 207 after his opponent, Cain Velasquez, pulled out," Abdelaziz said. "He has a whole bunch of seminars coming up in Korea and Russia. Fabricio's next fight will be a title fight. He has no interest in fighting someone ranked lower than him. When dos Santos is ranked No. 1, he can demand any fight he wants. He should focus on his training."
Werdum was supposed to fight Velasquez on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas, but that bout fell through when Velasquez failed to receive medical clearance from the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Dos Santos agreed to fight Werdum on short notice and even scrambled to produce the necessary travel visas and medical documents, but Werdum demanded more money for the change in opponent, and the UFC dropped him from the event entirely.
Dos Santos says he was sitting on his couch, out of shape, when he accepted that short-notice bout against Werdum. If Werdum is once again refusing to fight him on Feb. 19, dos Santos believes he should leapfrog Werdum in the rankings.
"He knows he can't have a good performance against me," said dos Santos, who holds a knockout win over Werdum from 2008. "I imagine he wants to keep his high rank, because then people will give him attention he really doesn't deserve.
"I hope the UFC finds me an opponent for Feb. 19, but if they don't, I think the right thing would be me fighting Miocic for the title. Let's get this division going."
Dos Santos' frustration is heightened because of the difficulties he faced to even book the Struve fight.
According to his manager, Ana Guedes, the UFC attempted to book dos Santos various times against Alistair Overeem, Josh Barnett and Mark Hunt, in addition to the UFC 207 Werdum offer. Dos Santos also inquired about fighting Andrei Arlovski.
Each of those potential opponents turned down the fight for different reasons. At one point, Hunt agreed but was demanding an additional clause in his UFC contract regarding anti-doping issues. Ultimately, the bout failed to come together.
Shortly after dos Santos finally did find a fight against Struve, many of those names that were unavailable to him were quickly booked, which he found puzzling.
"I'm just really upset about everything happening in this division right now," dos Santos said. "It's completely stopped. I'm in shape. I'm doing very well. I'm actually in one of the best times of my life. I'm looking forward to fighting again, but the UFC is allowing these guys to do whatever they want to do.
"I don't know why. [USADA] changed everything, too. With USADA here, things are different in this division. Weird things are happening. I'm just sad. Very sad. I'm ready to go, and I just need an opportunity. That's the UFC's job. They need to work on getting me an opportunity."