Thiago Santos Discusses Next Opponent, Paulo Costa’s Prospects at Light Heavyweight

By: Marcelo Alonso
Nov 2, 2021

UFC 267 was an important event regarding the status of the light heavyweight divison.

After Glover Teixeira took 205-pound gold from Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev secured a dominant win against Volkan Oezdemir in Abu Dhabi, the weight class appears to be wide open for contenders like Thiago Santos, who is coming off a win over Johnny Walker at UFC Fight Night 193. For now, “Marreta” is simply waiting for the promotion to call with a name and date.

"I would love to face [Jiri] Prochaska, He is the only Top 5 opponent I haven’t faced yet, but since the UFC announced that he is the next No. 1 contender, I’m open to a few rematches,” Santos said. “I’ve already defeated Blachowicz and Anthony Smith via TKO, but it happened in 2018 and 2019, and I’m sure they are totally different fighters today. Aleksandar Rakic said I was an easy matchup, so I challenged him and he did not answer back.”

Santos plans to return to action sometime between February and March, and the Brazilian is also open to facing lower-ranked opponents if that’s what the UFC offers.

"Dominick Reyes had a great fight with Jon Jones and, just like myself, many think he won,” Santos said. “I'm sure we could provide a great fight for the fans as well as Ankalaev, who just beat Oezdemir in an impressive fashion.”

When asked to predict the favorite in the next light heavyweight title bout, which is expected to be between Teixeira and Prochazka, “Marreta” pointed to the newly-crowned champion.

"Prochazka has more knockout power and moves more than Blachowicz, which may bring more challenges to Glover,” Santos said. “On the other hand, the fact that he just walks forward probably will make it easier for the champion to get his single leg and take him down. And he is much less skilled in the ground game than Blachowicz. I see Glover as the favorite.”

There could also be a newcomer in the division. Paulo Costa was unable to make the middleweight limit for his recent loss to Marvin Vettori, and UFC president Dana White said that “Borrachinha” will have to compete at 205 pounds going forward. If that holds true, Santos thinks Costa could be in for a rude awakening.

“‘Borrachinha' has a big name. He will probably arrive facing a Top 15 or Top 10 contender, but I think he should stay in the middleweight division where his size and knockout power can be an advantage,” Santos said. “Here at light heavyweight, his range and knockout power will not be big advantage anymore. [Manager] Wallid [Ismail] always says Costa can make 185 pounds, so he should stay there.”

Santos also had a positive words regarding Jones, who he lost a split decision against in a 2019 title bout. Jones hasn’t competed since February 2020 and recently made headlines for an alleged domestic violence incident involving his fiancee.

"Everybody has problems. I´m sure Jones will pass through that hard moment of his life and return stronger than ever, no matter if it’s at heavyweight or light heavyweight,” Santos said. “And that´s my hope as a fan and colleague. Jones is a legend of the sport and after seeing a guy like Glover, 42 years old, do what he did, I´m sure Jones, who is only 34 years old, has a lot to give to our sport yet.”  

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