UFC: Thiago Santos Is Targeting Title Fight Regardless Of The Opponent
Thiago Santos established himself as one of the household names in the UFC light heavyweight division after challenging Jon Jones for the belt at UFC 239. Although he came up just short on the judges’ scorecards, the 36-year-old posed one of the toughest challenges in the champion’s career to date.
After being sidelined since fighting Jones a year ago, after badly damaging both his knees, Santos is back in training and looking to schedule a fight.
With the current champion engaging in a financial dispute with the UFC, the light heavyweight strap may be vacated in the near future. Santos however, remains adamant in his pursuit of the championship and states the division must move on regardless of Jones’ potential retirement.
Santos spoke to MMA Junkie about how he views the current situation in the UFC light heavyweight division.
“If these things happen about Jon, if he really don’t want to fight, the light heavyweight division needs to go forward,” Santos said. “It needs to continue. It can’t stay stopped. I would like to go in line for the belt against Jones or against Dominick Reyes. We never know what UFC is going to do. I’m doing what I need to do. I keep training. I’m preparing for when the UFC tells me. I’m going to be 100 percent ready. I would like to fight for the belt or someone in the top five.”
Santos had been on a roll before his fight against ‘Bones’, with wins against Jan Blachowicz, Eryk Anders and Anthony Smith all under this belt. The Brazilian also discussed his current physical state, which has been put into question after suffering a torn ACL, MCL, PCL, and meniscus during his title bout. Now, with the knee surgeries in his rearview mirror, ‘Marreta’ is feeling as sharp as ever.
“[I am] 100 percent, man,” Santos said. “I feel so good. I train everything. I train with some partners, I start to spar. I feel so good. I train everything: wrestling, jiu-jitsu and sparring. I feel great. I feel 100 percent, and I’m ready to fight again. I’m just waiting for the UFC to tell me where, against who, and that’s it.”
Another fighter who claims the right to fight for the belt next is Jones’ latest opponent, Dominick Reyes. ‘The Devastator’ put on an impressive performance during his last outing against the champion, in which he lost a highly contested decision at UFC 247.
Santos expressed nothing but praise for Reyes’ performance, and declares to be ready should the UFC matchmakers schedule a fight between both former title challengers.
“He fought so good [against] Jones,” Santos said. “I’m really surprised. He did a good fight, he did a good game plan, and he fought good. Now let’s see what’s going to happen. I’m here. If UFC tells me it’s Dominick Reyes, I’m 100 percent for a fight against him. So, I’m waiting for the UFC to tell me. I’m preparing. I’m healthy, I’m 100 percent and feel confidence in my knee and about everything.”
In the face of Jones’ recent retirement claims, Santos remains dubious regarding the champion’s true intentions of vacating the belt. ‘Marreta’ did not weigh in too much into Bones’ decision, but stated he is staying sharp regardless of the opponent the UFC puts in from of him.
“I don’t believe Jon is retired,” Santos said. “He fights for what he deserves. I can’t say if he’s right or wrong, but he’s the champion for a long time, and he fights for what he believes he deserves. But I don’t believe he will retire or stop. Maybe he will stop for a few months or one year, but for sure not retirement. He is young. He has a lot of fights to do. I would like to know. I’m excited for news about [my next] fight and against who. I’m so excited.”
Santos has proved time and time again to be an exciting fighter who always provides the fans with thrilling matchups. In the midst of the current chaos surrounding the 205lbs belt, ‘Marreta’ certainly remains at the forefront of the title dispute. Whether the Rio de Janeiro native faces Jones, Reyes, or any other fighter in the division, viewers can be assured it will be a fight for the ages.
Do you think Thiago Santos is ready to take on the UFC light heavyweight belt?