I think I speak for a lot of mixed martial arts (MMA) fans when I profess how tired I am of the same old pre-fight cliches that seem to get recycled before every event. Stuff like, “He’s never fought someone like me,” or “I’m gonna make him fight my fight.”
That’s why I was so enthused by the recent comments from light heavyweight title contender Thiago Santos, who will attempt to pull the sword from the 205-pound stone against Jon Jones at UFC 239 this July in Las Vegas.
And yes, he realizes he’s fighting an opponent who is damn-near invincible.
“If there was a formula, or a secret, someone would have figured it out already,” Santos told MMAjunkie.com. “We’re working on it, my coaches are studying him, but I think he’s a very intelligent guy. He adapts. If the fight is bad on the feet, he goes to the ground. If it’s bad on the ground, he goes to the feet. If it’s bad at the center of the cage, he takes it to the fence. If it gets bad on the fence, he takes it to the center. He’s a very intelligent guy, so I need to be ready for everything.”
Santos says his only hope is to make Jones “suffer” wherever the fight goes.
Part of the problem, at least in terms of inflicting damage, is overcoming an otherworldly reach of 84.5 inches, a staggering 10 inches more than Santos. In addition, “Bones” holds a three-inch leg reach advantage over the Brazilian, a factor when considering the champ’s punishing teep kicks.
Working in favor of the challenger, is what may be one of the most devastating right hands in the entire light heavyweight division, responsible for 15 knockouts in 21 wins. Jones has already admitted he can’t bust a grape, so expect him to be weary of phone booth fights — assuming Santos can find a way inside.
We’ll find out this summer in “Sin City.”