UFC light heavyweight contender Thiago Santos isn’t happy with the opponent the UFC offered him for his comeback fight. Santos, 36, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, narrowly lost to 205-pound champion Jon Jones in his last fight via split decision and was hoping for another chance at the champ, or at least a fight against someone rated among the best in the division.
“I can’t say his name because it could get me in trouble, but they offered someone who’s not in the top-10,” Santos said per MMA Fighting. “I don’t think it’s fair to fight someone outside the top five or six or someone who’s on a rise.”
Santos is currently ranked No. 2 at light heavyweight. He hasn’t fought since UFC 239 in July. The veteran came close to scoring the epic win over Jones but now apparently has to get back in a long line in the division behind Jan Blachowicz, Dominick Reyes and maybe even Jones’ heavyweight plans.
Santos isn’t happy about the situation.
“I was very upset when they offered someone who’s coming off a loss, you know?” Santos said. “I refuse to take a step back. It’s not fair. If that’s how it goes, we’re gonna have problems getting our next fight.”
Judging by his remarks, it seems as if Santos wouldn’t even consider heading back inside the Octagon unless the UFC offers him a more palatable opponent.
Where Santos Believes He Belongs Among Contenders
Santos revealed he believes his split decision loss against Jones at UFC 239 should give him the leg-up on Reyes’ unanimous decision loss to Jones at UFC 247 on Feb. 6 in Houston. Much was made about how that fight was scored after the fact, but the reality is that the contest came down to how the third round was scored. Reyes, 30, from Hesperia, Calif., got off to a hot start. His boxing and kickboxing were on point through the first half of the contest. But Jones rallied starting in the third round to the point that the longtime 32-year-old champ clearly had the upper hand over the second half of the fight.
But Santos believes his narrow decision loss per the judges trumps what Reyes did. Moreover, Santos doesn’t want to face anyone but the top fighters in the division. According to the fighter, that’s not at all what he’s been offered as the Brazilian comes off the knee injuries he sustained against Jones last year.
“They want to give me fights I don’t want,” Santos said. “I never turn fights down, no matter who they are. But I’ve earned something, and I won’t accept anything less. I won’t take a step back. They want to give me something that represents a step back, and I won’t take a step back.”
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Santos Doesn’t Like Blachowicz’s Chances
Despite Blachowicz’s epic first-round stoppage of Corey Anderson over the weekend at UFC Rio Rancho in New Mexico, Santos doesn’t like the Polish puncher’s chances to beat Jones. While nothing has been announced yet, it does appear Jones’ next title defense could be against Blachowicz.
“You have to move a lot to beat Jones, and that’s not the case with Blachowicz,” Santos said. “You can’t stand in front of him. Reyes did that very well. It’s hard for Jan, but I don’t doubt him landing a punch and changing the story.”
Regardless, it looks like Santos is essentially demanding a bigger fight from the UFC. He didn’t complain about losing on the scorecards last year but revealed after the fight was over that he believes he could defeat Jones in a rematch.
Short of getting the immediate rematch, it appears Santos wants the opportunity to prove he deserves another crack at Jones.