Even ex-Ultimate Fighting Championship title challenger
Santos was surprised at how easy Jon Jones’ win
was at UFC 285.
Ahead of Jones’ heavyweight championship encounter with Ciryl Gane,
Jones invoked Santos’ name when discussing his former opponents.
When Jones suggested Santos was arguably his toughest test, Santos
replied positively about their five-round battle UFC 239 in
2019. Telling Sherdog about his expectations about Jones’
performance, Santos believed Jones would prevail. What he did not
expect was the speed in which “Bones” did it, and he spoke again
with Sherdog following the event.
“When Gane said he was lazy to train wrestling out of camp, I
thought it was like a trap for Jones. But in the fight, we found
out that it was true, and thanks to that JJ made it look so easy,
which brightened [his win even more],” Santos remarked.
While Jones was able to handle Gane thanks to superior wrestling,
“Marreta” believes that Jones’ next opponent of Stipe
Miocic will be a much more difficult challenge.
“Stipe is good everywhere, and besides having an excellent
wrestling level, he also has knockout power,” Santos noted. “If
Jones tries to take him down in the very beginning, he will need to
spend energy that he may need in the rest of the five rounds, so it
will force him to strike. But even being a much more difficult
challenge, I believe Jones will win.”
After the dust settled at UFC 285, many fans, fighters and media
alike suggested that Jones had either earned or cemented his place
as the greatest mixed martial artist of all time. The Brazilian is
not so sure that one win up at heavyweight put Jones over his own
“No doubt Fedor
Emelianenko is the greatest of all time,” Santos explained. “In
second place I would put Jones and Anderson [Silva], in 3rd GSP
Pierre] and 4th Demetrious
Most of the current champions in the UFC have a long way to go to
catch Jones, Emelianenko or any of the others he listed. The former
title challenger surveyed his previous roster, and believes that
current beltholder and past foe Jamahal
Hill might be one to watch as a potential future great. Hill is
expected to face ex-champ Jiri
Prochazka for the former’s throne sometime this year.
“I fought Jamahal,” Santos stated, who succumbed to strikes to Hill
in the fourth round of their UFC on ESPN 40 headlining match.
“Besides being a heavy puncher, he has an excellent punch
absorption, also he has a very good range and is a southpaw. Also,
he is pretty cautious, unlike Jiri who is kind of irresponsible on
his approach, always coming to kill or get killed. Because of that,
I believe Hill has more chance to hit a clean punch and decide the
Santos does not have all the time in the world to speculate on how
former opponents will fare, however, as he has his first Professional Fighters League fight coming up in
April. The Brazilian was keen on noting that the structure of the
organization, in a pure tournament format, takes some of the burden
away from having to sell fights. Most important is that Santos will
be facing the same fighter no matter what, so it alleviates a lot
of the trash talk often used to drum up fan interest.
“PFL’s style matches more with me,” Santos admitted. “Here, the
show exempts the fighter [from selling] the fights using trash
talk. We just must go there and put on a great show. Pure
meritocracy. Only that takes a big truck from my back. I always
hated to talk about my opponents. What I really like is to focus on
the training and to do my job inside the cage.”
The man known as “Marreta” does not hide that one big inspiration
to not renew with UFC was friend and teammate Antonio
Carlos Jr., who claimed the light heavyweight strap in 2021
with the PFL.
“’Cara de Sapato’ is one of my best friends and training partners.
Seeing how upset he got after being fired from UFC, and later
seeing him winning one-million-dollar grand prix, was one of the
biggest inspirations of my life,” Santos celebrated.
On April 1, Santos will take on 2022 PFL champion Rob
Wilkinson in the co-main event of PFL’s first regular season
event. He was excited about the opportunity, while confident about
his abilities, and ready to throw down with the fighter from
“Facing the champion is an excellent opportunity. Actually, I’m
coming from challenges against all top five of UFC, most of them in
five-round fights, which gave me a lot of experience. No doubt,
Wilkinson is a dangerous guy who deserves all respect. Heavy hands,
good wrestling. By the way, his two defeats happened in UFC against
two strikers that forced him to use his wrestling. But of course,
he is a much better fighter now. All I can say is that I’m really
happy and well-trained, ready to break into the door with both my
feet, as we say in Brazil,” the Rio de Janeiro native
Thiago Santos Surprised by Speed of Jones’ Victory; Urges Caution Against Miocic