Streaking light heavyweight contender Thiago Santos will test his luck against reigning UFC champion and pound-for-pound great Jon Jones when the two meet for the title at UFC 239 this summer.
With less than two months before the toughest fight of his career, Santos, who has won four in a row since moving up to 205 pounds last year, is starting to spice things up. In a recent interview with Combate, the Brazilian knockout artist discussed Jones and the champ’s storied mistakes outside of the cage over the past few years.
“I’m not bothered by it (the controversy around Jones),” said Santos. “It’s karma, he’ll have to live with it. He will be remembered as a roider, a guy who drives while drunk. That’s his business. I have to be remembered for not doing those things. It’s his life. If that’s how he wants to live his life, that’s his problem. It doesn’t bother me. It’s like I said, you can’t argue about his talent inside the Octagon, but outside of it, unfortunately he’s not a good role model. That’s what I think.”
This reaction from Santos isn’t completely out of left field as fighters have tried to get under Jones skin since the dawn of his UFC takeover, but it’s a little surprising considering the two light heavyweights have been cordial up until this point. At least that’s what Jones thought before seeing Santos’ comments hit the MMA airwaves.
The reigning UFC champion, who is coming off back-to-back title defenses over Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Smith, took to Twitter late last night to deliver the following message for Santos:
I’ve shown my opponent nothing but respect yet today’s headlines are of him talking shit. 95% of my opponents insult my personal life before the fight, 100% of them end up losing the fight. Who’s ready for July 6?— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) May 18, 2019
“I’ve shown my opponent nothing but respect yet today’s headlines are of him talking shit,” wrote Jones. “95% of my opponents insult my personal life before the fight, 100% of them end up losing the fight. Who’s ready for July 6?”
Jones went a little deeper.
I don’t think he’s nervous, it’s just his way of winning some type of moral victory over me. It’s his insurance for when he loses, at least he’ll be known as a good guy. https://t.co/RPqr97bYr0— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) May 18, 2019
“I don’t think he’s nervous, it’s just his way of winning some type of moral victory over me,” wrote Jones. “It’s his insurance for when he loses, at least he’ll be known as a good guy.”
Despite his struggles outside of the Octagon you can’t argue with Jones’ success inside of it. The 31-year-old phenom has never truly lost a fight in his entire MMA career and seems to get better and better as the years go on. So while Santos is doing his best to get under Jones’ skin, the champion is unlikely to be effected entering their clash this summer.
But who knows, maybe Santos will deliver the recipe to defeat Jones and pull off one of the biggest upsets of all time. It’s certainly a possibility, given the nature of this sport and the Brazilian’s violent finishing ability.
UFC 239 will take place on July 6 live on ESPN+ PPV from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, and also feature a co-main event clash between UFC women’s bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes and former 135-pound titleholder Holly Holm.
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