Sunday, September 25, 2022

Jon Jones Names Past Opponent Thiago Santos Reminds Him of Most

Jon Jones has shared the Octagon with many men with a variety of fighting styles. Tonight at UFC 239 he takes on a man who fights without regard for his opponent’s game plan and, often at his own detriment, without regard for his own well-being. Thiago Santos poses a very unique challenge to the man widely regarded as the greatest mixed martial artist to ever live, but when asked which of Jon Jones’s previous opponents does Thiago Santos remind himself of the most, Jones did not hesitate in his response:

“Vitor Belfort,” Jones said without hesitation in a UFC 239 media scrum prior to listing his reasoning. “From Brazil, black belt, familiar with capoeira, knockout power in both hands, capable of powerful kicks, built like a brickhouse. Vitor Belfort.”

Jon Jones faced Vitor Belfort in 2012 at UFC 152 in his fourth light heavyweight title defense. What made this bout so memorable is the fact that in this fight, a case could be made that Jones came the closest he ever did to tasting defeat, not because the bout itself was competitive, but because Belfort appeared to be very close to pulling off an armbar submission of Jones in the very first round. Had this happened, it certainly would have been by design, and the fact that Belfort pulled guard during the fight helps speak to that.

Jon Jones would do what Jon Jones does, though, which is find a way to pull off the victory. Jones ultimately was able to submit the black belt Belfort and take home Submission of the Night for his troubles. It won’t be long until we find out if Jones’s bout with Santos will have the same outcome.

UFC 239 takes place live from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada tonight on ESPN+. In addition to Jon Jones defending the light heavyweight championship against Thiago Santos, fellow Jackson Wink MMA member Holly Holm will look to also leave Vegas with gold when she challenges double champion Amanda Nunes for the women’s bantamweight championship. Also, Jorge Masvidal will square off against Ben Askren in a highly anticipated grudge match.

Who do you believe was a tougher challenge for Jon Jones prior to the fights: Vitor Belfort or Thiago Santos?

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