UFC Vegas 13’s Thiago Santos: Winner of Fight with Teixeira Deserves Title Shot

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After over a year on the sidelines following his title fight with Jon Jones, Thiago Santos finally returns to the UFC octagon on Saturday.

The Brazilian gave Jones one of his toughest tests to date back at UFC 239 in July 2019. In the process, Santos (21-7) also tore up his knees, with LCL, PCL, MCL, and meniscus tears on one leg, and a partially torn ACL on the other. Surgery and rehab followed. “I went through a hard time, but now I feel a hundred percent, I feel good,” Santos said of the experience this week. “I’m so excited to be back.”

It wasn’t easy getting here. Aside from the knee injury, Santos contracted COVID-19 ahead of his date with opponent Glover Teixeira. That actually marked the second time the bout was postponed, as Teixeira himself had also been diagnosed with the disease.

There were times when Santos thought the fight might fall through, he admitted. “I thought maybe the UFC would try to put [in] another guy. But [we] just waited, you know.” After both fighters got over their bouts with COVID-19, the match-up was salvaged, and fans will finally get to see the pair collide atop the UFC Vegas 13 card this weekend.

Santos returns against a Teixeira who has had an impressive career resurgence. “Glover’s a tough guy. He’s doing very well. Especially at this age,” observed “Marreta” about his 41-year old opponent. A tough guy who is dangerous everywhere, he noted — striking, wrestling, and jiu-jistu.

With Santos coming off a close split decision loss against then-champ Jones, and Teixeira having won four straight, most saw the UFC Vegas 13 main event as a title eliminator. Except for UFC President Dana White, apparently, who recently confirmed that middleweight champion Israel Adesanya would be moving to light heavyweight to face the recently crowned Jan Blachowicz.

Which puts Santos in an interesting position. With the rug more or less pulled out from under him. “I don’t know, we will see what’s going to happen after that fight,” he said of the situation. “First, I need to win [against] Glover Teixeira. I need to do my best. Prove for everyone that I’m back, and I’m really the number one contender. We will see what’s going to happen after my fight. ”

That said, Santos believes the winner of his fight with Teixeira “deserves to go to the title shot” next. And he believes that he could still bump Adesanya from the proposed title fight with Blachowicz.

“I know Dana White spoke about Adesanya, but no one knows. They still don’t have a contract,” he said. “No one knows what’s going to happen.”

Even if “The Last Stylebender” does make the move to 205lbs, Santos sees an opportunity there. “Sure. I would like to fight against him. I believe I can beat him,” he stated. That said, Santos admits he was a little bit frustrated initially with the decision. But after speaking with his manager, he took a wait and see approach. “People speak about Adesanya, but still they don’t have a contract. Everything can change.”

Watch the full UFC Vegas 13 virtual media day press scrum with Thiago Santos above. The card takes place Saturday, November 7 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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