Las Vegas, NV — Albeit she’s been preparing for Joanne Wood (nee Calderwood), Brazilian flyweight Taila Santos has always been training with Valentina Shevchenko in mind.
“Of course. I train every day thinking about the main goal, that’s the belt,” Santos (18-1) explained during Wednesday’s UFC Vegas 43 media day, “so of course I think about her.”
Santos carries a three-fight win streak into Saturday’s match-up with “JoJo,” a fighter who was once awarded a title shot only for it to slip through her fingers when she opted to stay busy rather than wait — only to lose her next fight.
There’s a belief that the Scottish fan favorite is never far from a crack a gold, which means that a win over her could do big things for Santos. It could be the top five next, and she has names in mind — but wasn’t ready to let any slip Wednesday.
As for the fight coming together less than two months out from her win over Roxanne Modafferi, “the UFC called me and they offered the fight. Looks like her opponent [the injured Alexa Grasso] couldn’t fight. So for me it was good, I didn’t have any injury from my last fight so that’s it.”
“I know she’s very very tough, I know about her striking background,” Santos added when asked about the match-up. “A lot of people think I’m a grappler, but my roots are striking, Muay Thai. So I’m sure it’s going to be a great fight.”
And although the aforementioned Modafferi is a teammate of Wood, Santos isn’t worried about her current opponent having the inside track.
“I’m not concerned at all. I’m confident. My team and I, we had a really good camp, we have a really good strategy for this fight. So I’m 100% confident for this fight.”
Watch the full UFC Vegas 43 media day appearance from Taila Santos above. More coverage from the event can be found below. The card takes place this Saturday, November 20, 2021 at the Apex in Las Vegas.