UFC booking Thiago Santos – Johnny Walker

The UFC is in the process of finalizing a fun light heavyweight matchup between top ten contenders. Combate was the first to report that the promotion was close to finalizing a matchup between Thiago Santos (21-9) and Johnny Walker (18-5).

The matchup will take place at a UFC Fight Night on September 25th. This is a massive opportunity for Johnny Walker who is currently ranked tenth in the division. Walker was supposed to fight Jimmy Crute back in March.

However, Walker had to pull out of the fight and Crute went on to fight Anthony Smith. I figured the UFC would give Walker someone like Crute upon his return, but that’s not what’s happening. Walker is getting a shot at a former title challenger and top five contender.

In March of 2019, Johnny Walker knocked out Misha Cirkunov in seconds. That knockout had him 3-0 in the UFC with three quick first round knockouts. The promotion moved Walker up the ladder fast and had him face Corey Anderson at UFC 244.

Walker had hurt his shoulder celebrating the Cirkunov win and this was his return fight. Anderson knocked him out in the first round. Then, Walker lost to Nikita Krylov by decision. Walker did get a win over Ryan Spann in September which got him back on track.

This matchup on September 25th is huge for Walker. If he can pick up an impressive victory over Santos, he might only be a win or two away from a UFC title shot.

UFC crossroads for Marreta

It seems just like yesterday that Thiago “Marreta” Santos was challenging Jon Jones at UFC 239. Santos destroyed his knee in the opening rounds, but still fought the all time great to a split decision.

Santos returned after a lengthy layoff to fight Glover Teixeira last fall. He had his moments in the fight, but Santos ultimately gassed out and was submitted by Glover Teixeira.

At UFC 259, Santos fought Aleksandar Rakic and seemed extremely gun shy. He lost a decision and now he’s lost three in a row. Fighting Johnny Walker is a step back for Marreta, but it’s a needed one. This is a big fight for both of these men but in very different ways. It should be a fantastic matchup with so much on the line.

Aleksandar Rakic believes he’s the new face of light heavyweight after UFC 259

This past Saturday at UFC 259, top four light heavyweight contenders kicked off the main card. Former title challenger Thiago Santos (21-9) took on Aleksandar Rakic (14-2). Both men were looking to take another step towards the UFC‘s light heavyweight title.

The expectation going into this fight was that it was going to be a fire fight. Both men possessed knockout power and both had highlight finishes inside the octagon. However, that isn’t the fight we got on Saturday night.

The fight was incredibly slow and featured Rakic just picking his shots from the outside. There were a few times where power shots were thrown, however, nothing serious ever landed. Neither man was in trouble at UFC 259.

In the end, Aleksandar Rakic had his hand raised by unanimous decision. After the fight was over, Rakic went over to Dana White’s table and told him that he was the new face of the UFC‘s light heavyweight division. Is that the case?

What’s next after UFC 259?

I will give Aleksandar Rakic this, he’s been sensational since joining the UFC. Since making his debut with the promotion back in 2017, Rakic has gone 6-1 inside the octagon. The only time he lost was to Volkan Oezdemir by split decision.

However, it’s worth noting that the vast majority of people believe that Rakic won the fight against Oezdemir. You could very well make the case that Rakic is unbeaten in the UFC. Rakic has all the makings of a future champion at 205.

He’s got the size, strength, and the skills to make it happen. We’ve seen him show off great kickboxing and we’ve also seen him show off decent skills on the ground. However, his last three fights have failed to wow fight fans.

With that, we know that Rakic is not getting the next UFC title shot. That shot belongs to Glover Teixeira. So with that, where does Rakic go from here? I think where we go from here is we look at the upcoming light heavyweight matchup in May.

Dominick Reyes and Jiri Prochazka will fight in May. Whoever wins that fight would matchup up perfectly with Rakic for a title eliminator. Based on rumblings in the background, it appears that the UFC is heading in this direction and that potential title eliminator should be a lot of fun to watch.

What’s next for Thiago Santos after another loss at UFC 259?

This past Saturday at UFC 259, former title challenger and top light heavyweight, Thiago Santos (21-9), returned to action. He took on fellow top light heavyweight contender, Aleksandar Rakic (14-2), to kick off the PPV main card.

For Santos, this was his second fight back since recovering from knee surgery. Santos had the opportunity of a lifetime when he earned a title shot against Jon Jones at UFC 239. However, the fight went very wrong very early on.

Early in the fight, Santos completely tore his knee apart. With the injury, Santos wasn’t able to explode and do the damage that he’s normally capable of doing. Somehow, Santos still fought the all time great to a split decision back in 2019.

After the fight, Santos had to have major reconstructive surgery to repair the damage in he knee. After about 17 months away, Santos returned last November to take on Glover Teixeira. At first, it looked like Santos was going to get back to normal.

Santos dropped Teixeira and looked like he was going to return to be the force in the UFC‘s light heavyweight division that he was before the knee injury. He ended up dropping Teixeira twice in their matchup, but ultimately gassed out and was submitted.

He turned right around to face Rakic at UFC 259. One thing I did notice in the Teixeira fight is that Santos didn’t quite have the same explosion that he did prior to the injury. This is something I also noticed a lot in the Rakic fight.

What’s Santos’ UFC future?

There was just no explosion from Santos on Saturday night. To me, it was clear that he had the power and the speed advantage at UFC 259. In the past, we’ve seen Santos explode forward to overcome range disadvantages. However, he couldn’t do that on Saturday.

He was always too far away and couldn’t get anything going. As a result, he was outpointed and he lost his third consecutive fight. Santos is still ranked fourth in the UFC’s light heavyweight rankings, but where does he go from here?

To me, Santos needs a reset. He needs to fight someone in the top ten that’s in a similar position, but it needs to be a winnable fight. Personally, I love the idea of Santos taken on another former title challenger in Volkan Oezdemir (17-5) next.

We haven’t seen Oezdemir compete inside the octagon since his knockout loss at UFC 251 back in July. Both men are former title challengers, but they’re also top ten light heavyweights needing to bounce back. Seems like a great time for the UFC to pair these two up.

Aleksandar Rakic earns a decision over Thiago Santos at UFC 259

Kicking off the PPV main card of UFC 259 was a light heavyweight contest between two top four contenders. Former title challenger, Thiago Santos (21-8) was taking on the rising contender, Aleksandar Rakic (13-2).

For Thiago Santos, he was looking to snap a two-fight losing streak. At UFC 239, Santos got his shot at Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title. Early on in the fight, Santos tore most of the ligaments in his knee.

Somehow, Santos was able to will his way through the fight and fight Jones to a split decision. It would be more than a year before Santos returned. Just a few months ago, Santos returned against Glover Teixeira.

Santos dropped Teixeira a few times in the fight, but didn’t look the same and ultimately was finished in that fight. He had a very tall order this evening in trying to end the losing streak. Many consider Aleksandar Rakic to be a future champion.

It’s hard to find a weakness when examining the overall game of Aleksandar Rakic. He’s good on the feet, good on the ground, and he’s one of the biggest guys in the division. The only slip up he’s had in his UFC career thus far was a split decision to Volkan Oezdemir. A win over Santos would put him in title contention.

UFC 259 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 259 main card opener started with a touch of the gloves. Rakic opened with pressure while Santos was circling on the outside. Good low kick from Santos opens up the striking.

Santos moves forward with his own pressure, but Rakic lands some counters that backs him off. Both men were just looking to time the other early on. Powerful leg kick lands for Thiago Santos.

Rakic throws a high kick that was blocked, but it was powerful and got Santos’ attention. Santos was remaining patient on the outside while Rakic was plotting forward cautiously. Santos steps forward with a big body kick and a left hand.

Rakic then lands a couple of really powerful leg kicks. Another kick lands for Rakic. It was clear that both men really respected the power of the other in the first. A nice jab lands for Rakic. Body kick lands for Santos. Two nice body kicks lands for Rakic. Round one ends and I think it’s 1-0 Rakic at UFC 259.

Round 2

The second round of the UFC 259 light heavyweight contest started with more pressure from Rakic. Santos was a little more in his base to start the second and he was looking for power shots. A nice leg kick from Santos opens the striking.

Santos tries to push forward with a superman jab, but it doesn’t land. Rakic went right back with the pressure and tried to land a lead uppercut. A good leg kick lands for Rakic. Santos lands a good jab to the body of Rakic.

Thiago Santos didn’t seem to have much explosion in there tonight. He tries to push forward, but Rakic catches him and presses him against the fence. Rakic was landing some decent body shots in the clinch, but nothing significant.

One minute left in the round and there was virtually no action in this one. Rakic lands a nice counter 1-2 just before the round ends. The UFC 259 main card opener wasn’t the most thrilling fight to start, but Rakic has won the first two rounds on my scorecard.

Round 3

Entering the final round at UFC 259 and Santos needs a finish in this one. Rakic opens the striking with a switch kick that was blocked by Santos. Both men exchange leg kicks and the action was already picking up in the third.

Santos then shoots in for a surprising takedown and Rakic defended and pushed Santos against the fence. They separate and Santos lands a body kick. A nice leg kick lands for Santos. Santos then lands a massive body kick on Rakic.

Rakic lands a leg kick and he tries to close the distance behind his jab. A 1-2 lands for Rakic, but Santos counters with a powerful leg kick. Halfway through the round and Santos lands a stiff jab on Rakic.

Another powerful body kick lands for Thiago Santos. Rakic was pressuring Santos, but wasn’t throwing much. A takedown attempt from Rakic, but Santos was defending well. Good shots along the fence land for Thiago Santos, but Rakic was staying on him.

One minute left and Santos needs to separate. However, Rakic was doing well staying heavy along the fence. The two separate with thirty seconds left in the round. However, neither man landed anything in the final thirty seconds and this one ends. Should be a decision win for Rakic at UFC 259.

Aleksandar Rakic def. Thiago Santos by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

UFC 259 Preview: Thiago Santos – Aleksandar Rakic

Kicking off the UFC 259 main card is a pivotal matchup in the light heavyweight division. Top four light heavyweight contenders, Thiago Santos (21-8) and Aleksandar Rakic (13-2) will battle it out as they look to take a step towards a UFC title shot.

If you want to just look at someone who appears to be a future champion at 205, look no further than Aleksandar Rakic. Rakic has all of the tools and the attributes he needs to become a UFC champion.

He possesses great striking with power, he has a really good ground game and once he’s on top of you, it’s hard to get back up. He’s very big for the weight class and he also has really good cardio to go with it.

Since making his UFC debut back in 2017, Rakic is 5-1 with the lone loss being a split decision to Volkan Oezdemir. Rakic is coming off of a dominant win against Anthony “Lionheart” Smith in his last fight.

Thiago Santos needs a rebound at UFC 259. Santos is the second ranked contender in the light heavyweight division, but he’s looking at a potential three-fight losing streak if he can’t get it done tomorrow night.

Santos fought Jon Jones to a split decision in 2019. However, he completely tore his knee apart in that fight. He returned a few months ago to face Glover Teixeira and he didn’t look like the same guy.

The power was still there, but the movement of Santos was not. His movement and confidence play right into his power which makes him so dangerous to other light heavyweights. If he doesn’t have that at UFC 259, he could be in for a long night.

UFC 259 Prediction

This is a fight that I’m completely on the fence about. Thiago Santos has all the skill needed to get the win here, but I just don’t know what Thiago Santos we will see tomorrow night. Is his movement going to be improved? Will he feel more stable on those legs?

We know that Aleksandar Rakic is going to move forward at UFC 259. Rakic will put pressure on Santos and he’s going to come heavy with his shots. Santos still has the power to hurt Rakic with counters, however, if he doesn’t have good movement, he’s going to be a sitting duck.

I really like Aleksandar Rakic in this matchup considering where both men are in their careers. Now, would it shock me to see Santos land a bomb and knock out Rakic tomorrow night? Absolutely not.

However, at the end of the day, I think Rakic is going to move forward and will not let Santos get off those power shots. I’m also expecting a few takedowns from Rakic. I think Rakic gets this fight down for good in the third to pickup the TKO win at UFC 259.

Prediction: Aleksandar Rakic by TKO – Round 3

State of the UFC’s light heavyweight division entering 2021

Corey Anderson

Last night, we got big announcement for the light heavyweight division. At UFC 259, Jan Blachowicz (27-8) will be defending his light heavyweight crown against the middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya (20-0).

It’s a massive fight with huge implications for the UFC‘s light heavyweight division. 2020 has been a very fascinating year at 205 pounds. When the year started, Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) was getting ready to defend his title against Dominick Reyes (12-2).

The fight took place at UFC 247. Reyes pushed Jones to the absolute limit and many believed that he won that fight. However, all three judges awarded Jones the decision and Jones walked away with his title.

Shortly after that, Jan Blachowicz knocked out Corey Anderson who was looked at as the next top contender. Jones was in attendance and the two men did a little talking through the cage. It appeared that would be the next title fight.

However, Jones decided to vacate his UFC light heavyweight title to pursue the heavyweight title. When Jones vacated, the promotion booked Blachowicz against Dominick Reyes for the vacant title at UFC 253.

Dominick Reyes was an uncrowned champion in the eyes of many in the MMA community after his fight with Jones. However, his uncrowned reign didn’t last long because Blachowicz knocked him out in the second round to capture the light heavyweight title.

UFC’s light heavyweight division in 2021

As mentioned, we already have the first title fight booked for UFC 259. Now, depending on who wins that fight, there are different fights that could be booked. If Blachowicz retains his title, Glover Teixeira (32-7) will be next.

The 41 year old Teixeira is riding a five-fight winning streak. He had an incredible 2020 where he finished former title challengers Anthony Smith (34-16) and Thiago Santos (21-8). However, he’s being passed over for Adesanya at this time.

The UFC has said that he’s the next contender, but the promotion is always about booking the biggest fights. While it’s not fair to Teixeira, his fight against Blachowicz is no where near as big as Adesanya moving up.

If Adesanya wins at UFC 259, I don’t see Teixeira getting the next shot. The reason is that I think the UFC will do everything they can to book the fight between Adesanya and Jon Jones should Adesanya capture the light heavyweight title.

Jones is intent on becoming heavyweight champion over the summer. Imagine a fall blockbuster that pairs the two-division champion, Adesanya, against the new heavyweight champion, Jon Jones.

That is the current status at the very top of the division. The contender I have my eyes on as we enter 2021 is Jiri Prochazka (27-3-1). Prochazka hasn’t lost in five years and he made his debut with the promotion at UFC 251.

He’s a very entertaining fighter and he put Volkan Oezdemir to sleep when they fought. He fights Dominick Reyes in February in a pivotal matchup for the division. 2021 is going to be interesting year for the light heavyweights.

I honestly don’t know what path the division is going to go down. The paths are vastly different depending on who wins at UFC 259 between Blachowicz and Adesanya.

UFC booking Thiago Santos – Aleksandar Rakic (Report)

The UFC is close to finalizing a big time matchup for the first half of 2021 in the light heavyweight division. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto is reporting that the promotion is close to finalizing a matchup between Thiago Santos (21-8) and Aleksandar Rakic (13-2).

The proposed light heavyweight showdown will take place on the UFC‘s March 6th card. The fight will not be the headliner of this fight night. This is a big fight for the light heavyweight division as both contenders rank in the top four.

Thiago Santos wasted no time in trying to right the wrong of his last performance. Last weekend at UFC Vegas 13, Santos suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Glover Teixeira. Santos was the big betting favorite going into the fight.

However, Santos had no answer for the ground game of Glover Teixeira. Santos did have some high points in the fight. He wobbled Teixeira badly in the first and dropped him in the third. However, both times, Teixeira was able to reverse the situation and get Santos down.

The former UFC title challenger was making his return after being off for the last year and a half. Santos tore several ligaments in his knee during his title fight with former champion, Jon Jones back at UFC 239.

UFC March 6th

Santos will get the chance to right that wrong, but he has a tall order in front of him. The Rocket, Aleksandar Rakic, has looked sensational since joining the UFC back in 2017.

Since making his debut with the promotion, Rakic has gone 5-1 with the UFC. His lone loss came against Volkan Oezdemir in a split decision. That’s a fight that a lot of people believe Rakic actually won.

In his last fight against Anthony Smith, Rakic’s leg kicks chewed up Smith. Smith was visibly limping in the first round of their fight after taking a couple of clean leg kicks. However, Rakic received some criticism for not going for the kill that night.

Nevertheless, Rakic got the victory which is ultimately what matters. Rakic campaigned for a UFC title shot after the victory, but he still has work to do. However, getting a win over Thiago Santos in March could get him there.

The UFC’s Light Heavyweight Dilemma

Corey Anderson

The UFC has a very complicated situation that is developing in their light heavyweight division. It all started back in the summer when Jon Jones announced that he would be vacating the light heavyweight championship following his incredible run.

Jones said he wanted to focus on capturing the UFC‘s heavyweight title. Following Jones’ departure, the UFC announced that Jan Blachowicz and Dominick Reyes would fight for the vacant light heavyweight championship.

Blachowicz went on to knock out Reyes to capture the title back at UFC 253. A fight was setup to take place before this matchup between Glover Teixeira and Thiago Santos. The fight was looked at as a title eliminator. The winner was said to be in line to face Blachowicz next year for the undisputed light heavyweight championship.

However, a wrench was thrown into the plans here. Last week it was announced that Israel Adesanya would be moving up for a UFC light heavyweight championship match. He’s expected to take on Jan Blachowicz at some point early next year.

Last Saturday at UFC Vegas 13, Glover Teixeira defeated Thiago Santos. The 41 year old won his fifth straight fight making him the clear number one contender in the light heavyweight division. However, because of the Adesanya fight, we have no idea when Teixeira will actually get a shot.

UFC’s Current Situation

When it comes to selling, Israel Adesanya challenging for the title is much bigger than Glover Teixeira for the UFC. Adesanya is a superstar who has the chance to become an even bigger star by capturing his second championship.

For the sake of the article, let’s say that Adesanya is able to defeat Blachowicz next year to capture the title. Glover Teixeira will just get the first crack at Adesanya right? Unfortunately for the 41 year old contender, it’s not that easy.

Adesanya recently said that he would still plan on fighting at 185 and defending both titles if he were to win. There’s a good chance that he would move back down after capturing the light heavyweight title to rematch with Robert Whittaker.

Even if he decides to stay at 205 for back-to-back fights, the likelihood that Teixeira would get the first title shot is low. If Adesanya defeats Blachowicz, the UFC will likely do everything they can to book the Adesanya – Jon Jones fight.

This would be the biggest fight that the promotion could possibly make. However, it would be at the expense of Glover Teixeira. With the Adesanya – Blachowicz fight in the works, the best thing for Glover’s chances is a Blachowicz win. However, if Adesanya wins, God only knows when Teixeira will actually get the shot he deserves.

What’s next for Glover Teixeira after UFC Vegas 13 victory?

Anthony Smith, UFC

This past weekend at UFC Vegas 13, Glover Teixeira (32-7) made a big statement with his victory. Teixeira was the underdog as he took on former title challenger, Thiago Santos. Santos was making his UFC return after a lengthy layoff due to knee injuries.

The last time we had seen Santos, he fought to a split decision with Jon Jones. He did that essentially on one leg. Prior to that, he had knocked out current UFC light heavyweight champion, Jan Blachowicz when they fought. Many were expecting another knockout from Santos.

As the fight got started, it looked like that’s where we were headed. Santos wobbled Teixeira badly in the opening seconds. However, Teixeira remained poised and he was able to land a takedown. Once the fight got to the ground, it was all Teixeira.

However, in the third round, Santos appeared close to another finish. A massive left hook floored Teixeira. Santos followed up with vicious shots on the ground, but Teixeira wouldn’t go away. Teixeira reversed the position to end up on top.

Following that, an exhausted Santos gave up his back. Once Teixeira had his back, the end was near. Teixeira locked up a rear naked choke and forced Santos to tap out. This was the fifth straight UFC victory for the 41 year old Teixeira who’s enjoying a massive career resurgence.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 13?

There should be a really clear answer to this question. Following UFC Vegas 13, Glover Teixeira should be getting a shot at the UFC light heavyweight championship. The man deserves a shot after stringing together five straight victories.

This fight was originally looked at as a title eliminator. However, it’s not that clear anymore. The prior weekend saw Dana White announce that middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, would be getting the next crack at Jan Blachowicz. 

With that in mind, it appears that the UFC will have to figure out something else for Teixeira. Teixeira is in a really tough spot right now. If he decides to compete again before getting his title shot, there aren’t a ton of fights out there for him.

One potential option would be a rematch with Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. Rumble will be making his return to the UFC in 2021. When fought previously, Teixeira was knocked out in 14 seconds. Perhaps a rematch is in order considering a title shot might not happen anytime soon.

What’s next for Thiago Santos after UFC Vegas 13

This past weekend at UFC Vegas 13, Thiago Santos (21-8) made his return after being out for well over a year due to knee injuries. Santos pushed Jon Jones to the limit in their title fight and he did it after tearing his knee up in the second round of their fight.

For that reason, many were excited to see the formal UFC title challenger return to action. The general thought was that he would be able to finish his opponent. His opponent was another former title challenger in 41 year old Glover Teixeira (32-7).

Teixeira has turned his UFC career completely around. The 41 year old was looking for his fifth straight victory inside the octagon. The fight started how most thought it would. A big Santos flurry wobbled Teixeira badly. However, the veteran maintained his composure and used his wrestling to get the fight down.

Santos really had no answer for the ground game of Teixeira. After that initial flurry, Teixeira went on to dominate the rest of the first and second rounds. Then, Santos floored Teixeira with a massive left hook to start the third. He appeared close to be finishing the fight.

Santos emptied the tanks looking for the finish, but Teixeira wouldn’t go away. Once again, Teixeira got Santos down, and got immediately to his back. Once there, Santos found himself in rear naked choke where he was forced to tap.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 13?

This was not the UFC return that Thiago Santos was looking for. There were moments in the fight were he looked sensational. However, those were outdone by his lack of defense on the ground and the wrestling skills of Glover Teixiera.

If Santos would have come out and stopped Teixeira in the first round, he would have made a really strong case for a title shot. However, now he must go back to the drawing board and look to improve for his next UFC outing.

In looking at the rankings, there are a couple of fights that could make sense for Santos. A fight with Aleksandar Rakic is one that I think a lot of people would be interested in. Or perhaps, Santos could welcome back Anthony “Rumble” Johnson in his next fight.