After falling short at UFC Vegas 59, what’s next for Thiago Santos?

Daniel Cunningham
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 06: Thiago Santos of Brazil looks on prior to a UFC Light Heavyweight Title bout against Jon Jones at T-Mobile Arena on July 06, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

This past Saturday in the main event of UFC Vegas 59, former title challenger Thiago Santos (22-11) was tasked with stopping Jamahal Hill (11-1, 1 NC). Hill has been surging up the ranks while Santos has been attempting to tread water at 205.

A few years ago, Thiago Santos was a force at light heavyweight. He had knockouts over the likes of Jan Blachowicz and Jimi Manuwa which netted him a title shot against Jon Jones. In his UFC title shot, Santos completely tore his knee and lost a decision.

Starting with that fight, Santos was just 1-4 in his last five entering UFC Vegas 59. He was hoping to have a big win over Jamahal Hill which would reset his career and establish himself as still one of the very best in the world.

However, that’s not what happened. In the first couple of rounds, Hill was getting the better of things. Santos was having his moments, but Hill was having bigger moments. In the third round, Santos leaned on his wrestling and had a ton of success.

However, in the fourth, he abandoned the wrestling and brawled with Hill. After this, Hill landed some big shots that sent Santos to the mat. Hill followed up and stopped Santos at UFC Vegas 59 dropping him to 1-5 in his last six fights.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 59?

This will be a really tough fight for Thiago Santos to stomach when he looks back on it. Granted, he looked like he was pretty gassed, but there was a path to victory. In the third, his wrestling was having a lot of success and it was getting easier to take Hill down.

However, he just couldn’t avoid the fire fight and that did him in at UFC Vegas 59. So, with this latest loss, what does the UFC do with Santos next? Well, considering his placement in the division, I think there are a couple of options.

One option would be Paul Craig who just lost a decision to Volkan Oezdemir. They are around the same spot and it’s a very winnable fight for Santos if he can keep it standing. Another option would be young contender Jimmy Crute who has lost two in a row.

Ion Cutelaba could be an option if he gets past Johnny Walker. The UFC has options and Santos will get a decent opponent next, but it’s starting to look like his days as one of the elite are over.