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Thiago Santos: Giving up during Jon Jones title fight wasn’t an option, even on one leg

UFC 239 Jones v Santos Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Thiago Santos recently underwent surgery on both knees to repair damage he suffered during his Light Heavyweight title fight against Jon Jones at UFC 239 a few weeks ago resulting in tears to his ACL, MCL, PCL and meniscus.

In other words, he completely shredded his knee, which prevented him from fighting at full strength. Nevertheless, “Marreta” went on to finish the fight and give Jon a good test. In the end, though, the judges gave “Bones” a split decision win.

Still healing from the painful procedure, Santos recently took the time to speak with ESPN about his surgery, his recovery process and his performance against Jones.

“It hampered what I had done best up to that point, which was my movement -- going in and out, exploding in. I wasn’t able to use my strongest weapon because of it, so it really did hamper me in the fight,” explained the Brazilian bomber, who said despite the pain, he wasn’t going to stop from trying to win the title.

“That’s me, though. I wasn’t going to give up. I wasn’t going to stop, even on one leg. It became a mental thing. That’s just where I come from and what I’ve lived through. I was born in the Brazilian slums, and don’t forget, I spent seven years in the Brazilian special forces. There is no giving up. It’s not an option,” he added.

Jones gave Thiago props for giving him a good fight, saying a rematch wouldn’t be out of the question. Still, Santos can’t help but to think his first opportunity got away from him due to his injury. Even then, he feels he did enough to win the fight.

“Yes, I saw it once last week. It’s difficult for me to watch. That’s why it took me so long to watch it. If I was a judge, I would have given that fight to Thiago Santos. I think I won Rounds 1, 2 and 5,” he said.

“I think the fact Jones was the champion weighed on the judges’ decision. I think the challenger has to do more to take the belt from the champion. There has to be a rematch. As soon as I am 100%, we have to get back in there and find out a real winner.”

Unfortunately, it will be a while before Thiago gets clearance to return to action given the extent of his injuries and the long road of rehab ahead. Plus, once he does return he won’t get a straight shot at “Bones,” who has other contenders to get through.

And who knows, Jon may be fighting at Heavyweight a year from now if he keeps running through the 205-pound division at the current pace he’s on.

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