Fresh off a disappointing loss in his first fight in over a year, Thiago Santos (21-8) has already booked his next opponent. Santos, a former light heavyweight title challenger, is set to face Aleksandar Rakic (13-2) on the UFC’s March 6 card early next year.
News of the booking was first reported by Brett Okamoto of ESPN. The fight will be a three-round contest.
After suffering a third round loss to Glover Teixeira last weekend at UFC on ESPN 17, Santos will look to get back in the win column. However, many questions still surround the former Brazilian Army Paratrooper’s legs. Evidently, after the damage he took in the Jon Jones fight, his legs still aren’t 100 percent. At least in the Teixeira fight, Santos appeared to struggle to power out of takedowns. Whether that was a one-off remains to be seen.
Conversely, Rakic has looked impressive against top tier competition. Recently, the Austrian powerhouse dominated Anthony Smith over the course of five rounds at UFC Vegas 8.
While news of the fight began making the rounds Friday, there is no indication as to whether the UFC’s March 6 event will be Fight Night or a Pay-per-View. The UFC has not officially announced a card on that date as of yet. It is unknown at this time whether the event will take place in Las Vegas, or perhaps on Fight Island. However, Santos and Rakic have competed stateside during the pandemic.
With Santos looking to bounce back and Rakic hoping to earn a second consecutive win, the fight looks to produce an emboldened contender in the light heavyweight division. At first glance, there is a question as to why Rakic is even fighting Santos while the Brazilian is coming off back-to-back losses. However, Santos like Rakic has a win over Smith (at middleweight). “Marreta” also stopped the current UFC light heavyweight champion, Jan Bachowicz.
Despite the champion being busy with Israel Adesanya, there may be a lot riding on this match-up. The division has been moving rapidly since Jon Jones’s departure. Currently waiting in the wings is Glover Teixeira. But that’s not all, as there’s a pivotal light heavyweight fight coming down the pipe when Dominick Reyes faces Jiri Prochazka. After Blachowicz and Israel Adesanya is resolved, fans will have a bevy of contenders to plug and play with.