At UFC 239 the world tuned in and witnessed Thiago Santos turn in an inspired performance against Jon Jones after suffering a left knee injury during the fight. But what the public is not privy to is the fact that Thiago Santos had surgery on his other knee after the fight was announced, which naturally affected Santos’s championship camp, as detailed by coach “Tata” Duarte:
“The camp started with a 45-day delay and Thiago only had two months to prepare for this fight, but still didn’t want to pull out,” Duarte told MMA Fighting. “The doctor gave us a timeline but we had a problem later. Heather (Linden), physical therapist of the UFC, was the one who recovered his knee. She was at UFC 237 in Rio and kept working on his knee for six days straight and found out what the problem was and was able to fix it. That’s when he started his camp.”
“We told him, ‘Thiago, let’s pull out of the fight,’ and he said, ‘No, I won’t pull out.’ He didn’t want to. We did this camp in two months. It should have been at least three months, but we didn’t have that time.”
But in a cruel twist of fate for the Santos camp, it turned out to be the left knee, not the right knee that turned out to be a major story in the fight. And if this wrinkle had never formulated, Duarte believes we surely would be looking at a new light heavyweight champion:
“If that knee hadn’t stopped him, Jon Jones would have gone down, no doubt,” Duarte said. “Our game plan was all set, ‘Marreta’ was seeing everything. And after he started hurting Jon Jones’ legs he began to lose mobility, it was too easy to put him out, man, but we counted on switching stances to get it done. He started the combinations but couldn’t continue.”
Do you believe Thiago Santos would have won the fight if his left knee did not get injured?