UFC light heavyweight contender Thiago Santos will enter the Octagon tonight at UFC Vegas 59 with violence on his mind.
The 23-fight UFC veteran has struggled in recent outings. Since challenging for Jon Jones’ title back in 2019, a bout in which he earned the nod from one of the three judges, the Brazilian has failed to recapture the form that brought him to the belt.
After a layoff courtesy of the serious knee injury he suffered against “Bones,” Santos returned with consecutive losses to Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakić. While he rebounded with a lackluster five-round victory over Johnny Walker, “Marreta” failed to return to a win streak, falling to defeat against Magomed Ankalaev on the scorecards.
Now, the Brazilian will be fighting down the rankings against the surging Jamahal Hill in tonight’s Las Vegas-held headliner.
With 15 career knockouts, including memorable finishes of Jimi Manuwa and Jack Hermansson, Santos earned quite the reputation as a brutal and powerful KO artist.
But in his past three outings, the Brazilian has failed to live up to his “Sledgehammer” moniker. During his appearance at Wednesday’s media day, Santos laid the blame for that on the approach of his opponents.
“Some fights, the guys (were) aggressive (on paper), but I don’t know what happened when they fight against me,” Santos said. “They come different. They try to take me down, they fight like, strategy fight.”
Having had some of the shine taken off his KO reputation in recent years, Santos will be not only looking to head back to the win column tonight, but also back to vicious stoppages.
Santos Targets A Return To Finishes
For that goal, Santos certainly looks to have a willing dance partner.
Hill has climbed the light heavyweight mountain with brutal finish after brutal finish, including a remarkable knockout of Walker, whom Santos went the 25-minute distance against, in his main event debut earlier this year.
With that in mind, “Marreta” is predicting an early finish come tonight’s headliner, and one that he hopes to be on the victorious end of. Either way, Santos is promising a much different affair from his previous outings.
“I promise I (will) go forward, I go to knock him out. And this fight is gonna be different from my last fights,” Santos insisted. “(Five-round fight) is possible, but I think probably this fight is gonna finish early… He’s (Hill) a tough opponent, aggressive, has some KOs. But I have one of the most KOs in this division in the UFC. Let’s see what’s gonna happen… let’s see who’s gonna stay standing.”
At 38 years old, Santos is in need of a victory to maintain a place close to the light heavyweight title picture. A loss to Hill, who currently sits at #10 at the age of 31, would no doubt be a devastating setback for the Brazilian’s championship ambitions.
But should Santos make good on his word to put on a “different” performance tonight, he could join veterans Glover Teixeira and Jan Blachowicz towards the top of the division once again.
Do you think Thiago Santos can finish Jamahal Hill in tonight’s UFC Vegas 59 main event?