A Brazilian extravaganza looks to explode in the light heavyweight division between two top 10 UFC contenders.
Thiago Santos and fellow Brazilian Johnny Walker have verbally agreed to fight each other on September 25th according to a report on Combate. Venue and location is still unknown at this current time.
Santos looks to bounce back from his three fight losing streak who has not seen a win since his split decision loss against the then light heavyweight king Jon Jones in his title challenge fight back in July 2019.
Johnny Walker is coming off a win after dropping a recent two fight losing skid. Santos is ranked #3 whilst Walker is ranked #10 in the UFC light heavyweight division.
Thiago Santos (21-9)
Santos is coming off a loss back in March at UFC 259 against the surging Aleksandar Rakić in what was a lackluster performance for the Brazilian. “Marreta” lacked the explosive speed and power that made him so successful which eventually led him to the title shot against Jon Jones.
Since the title fight loss to Jones, Santos has not looked the same as he went on to lose against Glover Teixeira by rear-naked choke in November last year and then against Rakić most recently.
In his fight against Jones, Santos suffered four injuries where he tore his ACL, MCL, and PCL and meniscus in his left knee. This may be a major reason why Santos has gone to lose three fights consecutively as he took a lot of damage against Jones.
Having gone from the one punch KO artist in the division that everyone feared to lose three on the trot, Santos is definitely at a crossroads in his career. He will need to regain that explosiveness and unpredictability that made him knock out the likes of Eryk Anders, Jimi Manuwa and the current UFC light heavyweight champion, Jan Błachowicz.
If Santos could get back on the horse, beat Walker and string together some wins, a fight against the champion Błachowicz could definitely be a narrative he can push as he has already beaten the Polish champion. The Brazilian still has hopes of becoming champion of the world, it’s a question of whether Santos will turn up in his fights and remind everyone of the KO power he possesses.
Johnny Walker (18-5)
Walker is coming off a win against Ryan Spann back in September last year in what was one of the craziest one round fights the UFC had seen that year. The action was back-and-forth where it seemed Walker was close to being finished twice as the Brazilian was dropped twice by Spann. However the Brazilian somehow recovered his bearings and went on to ground n’ pound Spann into unconsciousness as Spann shot in for a takedown.
Whilst Walker went home with a win, many still questioned the lack of defence from the Brazilian as he was hurt multiple times from Spann. Walker’s sheer will and recovery saved him but the question is will he be able to do the same if he was to get hit by “Marreta” Santos.
After bursting onto the UFC scene by earning a contract through Dana White‘s Contender Series back in August 2018, Walker seemed to be on the fast track to the title with wins against Khalil Rountree Jr., Justin Ledet and Misha Cirkunov. He finished all of them in a combined 168 seconds. Each finish captured the fan’s imagination and made him an instant sensation in the UFC. All within a span of four months.
Until he ran into Cory Anderson who derailed the hype train in devastating fashion as he finished Walker in the first round by TKO. Walker went on to lose a convincing unanimous decision loss against Nikita Krylov in March 2020. The two losses showed massive holes in his game when it came to his striking defence and his bottom game from the ground.
Coming off a less than convincing win against Spann, Walker will have to prove to fans why he was so hyped in his first three UFC fights and show improvements to his game if he is to defeat Santos. Currently ranked #10, this is a massive opportunity for Walker against the #3-ranked UFC light heavyweight contender to gain a massive jump up in the rankings. A win here would possibly earn him a top five spot and a title eliminator fight next.
Who do you have winning this Brazilian light heavyweight fight for the ages? Both explosive and unpredictable, surely this one is going to be fireworks?