Friday, May 27, 2022

Santos: I’ll Prove I’m Still In The Game By Stopping Ankalaev’s Rise

UFC light heavyweight contender Thiago Santos is hoping to prove he’s still a player at 205 pounds by halting the rise of surging Dagestani Magomed Ankalaev.

Having rebounded from a three-fight losing skid last time out by besting Johnny Walker in the UFC Vegas 38 main event, Santos will be hoping to open his 2022 account with success in what will be the Brazilian’s fourth headliner in his last five outings.

In his way of a two-fight win streak will be Ankalaev, a rising contender widely considered a future champion. The Makhachkala-born 29-year-old will ride a seven-fight win streak into UFC Vegas 50, a run of form that includes dominant victories over Ion Cuțelaba, Nikita Krylov, and Volkan Oezdemir.

Despite having his hand raised last October, Santos didn’t massively impress in what was undoubtedly a disappointing and lackluster five-round clash.

With that in mind, and given his prior defeats to Aleksandar Rakić, Glover Teixeira, and Jon Jones, many have questioned whether “Marreta” still has what it takes to hang with the light heavyweight best.

This Saturday, Santos’ mission will be to prove his detractors wrong.

Santos Excited For “Good Opportunity” Versus Ankalaev

During a recent interview with MMA Junkie’s Danny Segura, Santos, who will be making the walk to the Octagon for the 23rd time this weekend, explained why he sees the UFC Vegas 50 headliner as a good opportunity.

Despite the immense challenge in front of him, the Brazilian said he’s looking to show that he’s still “in this game” by adding a second blemish to Ankalaev’s 17-fight résumé.

“He’s a big challenge for me. He’s a young guy, prospect, so I’m so excited for this fight… He’s doing a very good job. But it’s a good opportunity. I can show to everyone I’m still in this game.”

With both men coming off wins and inside the light heavyweight top six, Saturday’s contest could have huge implications for the title picture. Now that Jiří Procházka is set to challenge for Teixeira’s gold at UFC 275, the race to ascend to the spot in the queue behind the Czech is underway.

Given Rakić is likely to have his clash with Jan Blachowicz re-arranged for later in the year, it appears the victor in that matchup will lead the charge. Nevertheless, you’d expect this weekend’s winner to be just one more triumph away from a date with the champion.

Who do you think will have their hand raised in this weekend’s main event, Thiago Santos or Magomed Ankalaev?

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