Thiago Santos carried a reputation as one of the toughest fighters in UFC prior his battle with light heavyweight champion Jon Jones this past weekend at UFC 239 in Las Vegas. But even in coming up short with a split decision loss to Jones on Saturday, that reputation gained a huge boost.
Santos’ manager, Alex Davis, confirmed to ESPN’s Marc Raimondi on Monday that tests revealed “Marreta” gutted through the main event against one of the greatest of all time while dealing with tears of his left ACL, MCL, PCL and meniscus. Understandably, Santos will be away from competition for the rest of the year, and there is currently no timetable for a return.
Santos (21-7) first showed visible signs of a left knee injury when the joint buckled in the second round as he was on the defense of an attacking Jones. Afterwards, Santos revealed that he began to feel discomfort near the end of the first round. Amazingly enough, as everyone watched along live, a visibly-injured Santos would end up giving Jones one of the toughest challenges of his career — to the point where some believed Santos had done enough to come away with the stunning decision win and the 205-pound title.
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“I left everything in there even after injuring my knee in the first round,” Santos said after the bout. “I fought four rounds on a southpaw stance, unable to move like I usually move, unable to throw the strikes I usually throw. I didn’t shock the world because of those circumstances, but I did what I could do in those conditions and I’m satisfied.”
Jones (25-1) was awarded the split-decision victory over Santos with two judges scoring 48-47 in his favor as he defended the UFC light heavyweight title for the second consecutive time since reclaiming the vacant championship over Alexander Gustafsson in December 2018.
Naturally, one has to wonder now how much more impressive Santos — who was armed with an incredible game plan coming in — would have fared with full use of the left leg throughout.