Ahead of his pivotal light heavyweight matchup against the emerging, Aleksandar Rakic at UFC 259 on March 6th. — one-time championship challenger, Thiago Santos still has sights firmly planted on eventual titleholder status in the promotion — even if that means he fights into his forties.
Hoping to snap a current skid that has seen him drop two consecutive losses, the Muay Thai ace unsuccessfully pried the 205-pound crown from the grasp of former two-time titleholder, Jon Jones back in July of 2019, in a close split decision loss.
Suffering catastrophic injuries in both legs and knees, including tears and fractures, Santos made his much-anticipated Octagon return at UFC Vegas 13 in November against compatriot, Glover Teixeira. Despite starting well, dropping Teixeira in the opening round — Santos was eventually stopped in the third frame by the shrewd operator, giving up his back before Teixeira locked up a rear-naked choke — stamping his number-one contender status at light heavyweight yet again.
The Rio de Janeiro native already holds a knockout victory over current titleholder, Jan Blachowicz — stopping the Pole in a main event clash at UFC Fight Night Prague in February of 2019. The former KSW titleholder has since gone on to claim the undisputed championship in a vacant title matchup with Dominick Reyes at UFC 253 last October and is set for his first attempted title defence on March 6th. — welcoming middleweight kingpin, Israel Adesanya to 205-pounds.
Speaking with MMA Junkie recently, Santos claimed that he still has sights fixed on scoring light heavyweight gold in the UFC, and if his body allows him, he would fight beyond his thirties to achieve that gold if needs be.
“My goal is to become the UFC champion,” Santos said. “I’m not in the UFC just to be in the UFC. I plan to fight past the age of 40(-years-old.) It all depends on how much my body can take. As long as I can have good performances, I’ll keep working at it.“
His most recent losses to Teixeira and Jones marked his first blemishes at 205-pounds since his move to the division back in September of 2018 — dispatching Eryk Anders, Jimi Manuwa, and the above mentioned Blachowicz prior to that.