The UFC 231 main card kicked off with a fun light heavyweight bout between Jimi Manuwa and Thiago Santos.
In what is a crossroads fight for both men, Jimi Manuwa and Thiago Santos met in the opening bout for UFC 231. Manuwa has lost two in a row, albeit to top-five opponents, but that’s not the direction you want to go in the Octagon. Thiago Santos, on the other hand, is just breaking into 205 pounds and has won six of his last seven fights. This fight was originally set for September earlier this year, however, Manuwa dropped out and now they’re running it back. This is also Santos’ fifth fight of 2018, which is the most on the roster in this calendar year.
In what was one of the most entertaining rounds of the year, we saw Thiago Santos nearly finish Manuwa in the first 45 seconds of the fight, throwing everything and the kitchen sink at him. However, Manuwa soon survived after getting the clinch and from there, it was an incredible back-and-forth round where both men had tons of success and were rocked multiple times in the first round. Manuwa landed a very solid left hook that nearly dropped Santos, and he showed tons of heart to survive. What an incredible way to start UFC 231.
Round two started with both men trading heavy shots again. Eventually, Santos backed Manuwa up against the fence and landed a giant uppercut and a hook that caused Manuwa to faceplant to the canvas, and that was all she wrote. A giant knockout win, and a fight of the year candidate in the books for Thiago Santos.
Nobody knows where Thiago Santos will go from here, but there is always a guarantee for fireworks when the Brazilian steps into the cage.
Thiago Santos def. Jimi Manuwa by KO (Left Hook) in Round 2 (0:41)