Thiago Santos will have an opportunity to, in his own words, shock the world when he challenges Jon Jones for the UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 239 this weekend, and has no intentions of wasting his shot, both figuratively and literally.
Thiago Santos’s knockout power is unquestioned, but sometimes his methodology can be a bit on the wild and unrefined side, which could prove problematic against a cage general like Jones, but Santos showed a more measured approach in his most recent outing against Jan Błachowicz at UFC Fight Night 145 in February, and it paid dividends, earning Santos a highlight-reel KO while moving backwards. It was Santos’s timing and execution that caught Blachowicz slipping, and he expects to once again prepare to play the role as sniper and this time nail the biggest target in the UFC (Translation via Bloody Elbow):
He is full of surprises, just like me,” Santos told Globo Esporte. “So I don’t think there’s one specific thing I need to worry about. I need to be concerned in a more general manner, he is very well-rounded, a one-of-a-kind kind of guy. I’m going to feel it out, find the right moment to attack, avoid his attacks and find the right time to pounce. Like a sniper. I’m an explosive guy, I don’t like to waste any shots.”
The fact that Jon Jones is so cerebral in the Octagon is what makes wisely selecting his shots all the more a necessity for Santos. But Santos is confident that he has what it takes to land these shots, regardless of what the naysayers believe:
“I know what my potential is, I know what I can do,” Santos said. “Regardless of the doubts. If I didn’t know me, I would bet on him, too, he’s the favorite, for sure. He’s a great fighter because of his history. He’s a very smart fighter. I have always respected my opponents, this won’t be different. I respect Jones very much, he’s an amazing fighter, but people don’t know about my potential. I thrive in adversities. People congratulate me for taking this fight with Jon Jones. Why wouldn’t I? I can make history and change my life with this fight.”
What do you believe are the odds that Thiago Santos upsets Jon Jones at UFC 239?