UFC light heavyweight contender Thiago Santos makes his long-awaited return to the sport against Glover Teixeira this weekend in the main event of UFC Vegas 13 at UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Santos, 36, from Brazil, revealed to Heavy that he expects a tough fight against his countryman, but that he expects to win his fight on Saturday night.
“It’s going to be wild,” Santos said. “Glover is a tough guy. He is so experienced, and I’m so aggressive. Both try to finish fights before the full five rounds, so I think it’s gonna be a war, and I’m prepared for that.”
Santos, a Muay Thai expert, said he’ll be gunning for the stoppage win against Glover.
“Sure, my style is striking, so I’m going to try and knock him out,” Santos said. “It’s what I’m going to try. Let’s see how it’s going to be.”
Santos Returning After Long Layoff
“I’m so excited to come back inside the Octagon,” Santos said. “It’s been a long time.”
Santos is coming off a long layoff due to injury. The former middleweight challenged Jon Jones for the UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 236 in July 2019 but suffered several torn ligaments in his knee in the first round of that fight.
Jones beat Santos via split decision over five rounds. After that setback, Santos had a long road back ahead of him. Still, Santos said he had no worries about his body this weekend.
“I think after eight months I started to feel ready to fight again,” Santos said.
Santos Wants Another Title Shot
While Santos eventually admitted to Heavy that he wants to take another run at UFC gold soon, the 36-year-old Brazilian also said he didn’t feel skipped over when the UFC decided to make Jan Blachowicz vs. Dominick Reyes for the vacant title at UFC 254.
“I understand,” Santos said. “I was [injured]. I can’t complain about this. I think it’s right. I need to [have] one more fight before, and those guys were fighting so it’s okay.”
So even though an injured Santos had given Jones such a tough fight, and even though Santos had knocked out Blachowicz a few months prior, Santos said he was cool with how the UFC decided to fill the 205-pound title vacated by Jones without him.
Regardless, he sees another title shot in his future.
“I don’t know how long it’s going to be,” Santos said. “Maybe one more fight. If it happens, maybe I will do one more fight. I don’t know. Let’s see.”
Santos Focused on Beating Teixeira
Santos knows any future fights for UFC gold depend largely on his he performs against Teixeira, a 41-year-old veteran contender on an impressive four-fight win streak.
“My focus is only about Glover Teixiera,” Santos said. “Everything depends on how this fight is going to happen. I can’t think about things after this fight. First thing, I need to beat Glover Teixeira. After that, I can think about next step.”
Still, Santos does believe he deserves a crack at the champ.
“Sure, after this fight, if I beat Glover Teixeira, sure, I would like to go to fight against Jan Blachowicz.”
But Santos also seems to know how fast different fights seem to come and go in this sport. In fact, Santos said he’s heard about the proposed superfight between Blachowicz and UFC middleweight champ Israel Adesanya, so he’s not so sure how his fight against Teixeira will work out for him.
“No one knows,” Santos said. “I saw Dana White speak about Adesanya was going to fight with Jan, so no one knows. Everything can happen. Everything can change in a moment. So my focus is on my next fight against Glover Teixeira.”
But after that? Is Santos okay with Adesnanya jumping ahead of him in line to fight for the title?
“We will see what will happen.”
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