Thiago Santos Not Willing To Take ‘Step Back’ With UFC Return Opponent

Thiago Santos
Thiago Santos - Image via @tmarretamma Instagram

Santos: Jones Rematch Not Up To Me

Former UFC light heavyweight title challenger Thiago Santos does not plan on taking a step back in competition when he returns to action.

Santos has not fought since last summer following his split decision loss to Jon Jones in their title fight at UFC 239. Despite injuring his knees early on in the fight, “Marreta” took “Bones” the distance with one judge even scoring the bout to him.

He has since undergone double knee surgery and is targeting a return in July. But whether it’s a rematch with Jones remains to be seen.

“That’s what I want, but it’s not up to me,” Santos told MMA Fighting. “The scenario has changed. It’s not up to me.”

Instead, it appears the UFC has offered opponents low in the rankings to Santos, who feels he has earned the right to at least land a high-profile opponent given his performance against Jones.

“They want to give me fights I don’t want,” Santos explained. “I never turn fights down, no matter who they are. But I’ve earned something, and I won’t accept anything less. I won’t take a step back. They want to give me something that represents a step back, and I won’t take a step back.

“I can’t say his name because it could get me in trouble, but they offered someone who’s not in the top-10. I don’t think it’s fair to fight someone outside the top five or six, or someone who’s on a rise. I was very upset when they offered someone who’s coming off a loss, you know? I refuse to take a step back. It’s not fair. If that’s how it goes, we’re gonna have problems getting our next fight.”

As for Jones, it looks like his next opponent will either be Dominick Reyes again, or Jan Blachowicz, who is coming off an impressive first-round knockout of Corey Anderson.

Santos notably knocked Blachowicz out — and delivered the only loss in the latter’s last eight fights — to earn his shot at Jones but doesn’t seem too confident in the Polishman’s chances should he get the next crack.

“It’s tough,” Santos added. “He’s someone who can surprise with a punch and win, just like he did against Corey Anderson. But it’s a complicated matchup.

“You have to move a lot to beat Jones, and that’s not the case with Blachowicz. You can’t stand in front of him. Reyes did that very well. It’s hard for Jan, but I don’t doubt him landing a punch and changing the story.”

What do you make of Santos’ comments?

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