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Former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight title challenger Thiago Santos feels a bit underwhelmed by his next opponent.
Shortly before moving to Florida, Santos spoke with PVT reporter Leonardo Fabri in his academy located in the Cidade de Deus (City of God) slum last Wednesday, where “Marreta” confirmed his fight with Glover Teixeira. The two light heavyweights will headline the Sept. 12 UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas at the UFC Apex.
“Actually, Glover was not the name we wanted,” Santos admitted. “My desire was a revenge against [UFC light heavyweight champion Jon] Jones or [to] go straight for the interim belt against Dominick Reyes. But once UFC was passing through that indefinite situation about Jones, I had to understand their point. I’m more than one year out of the Octagon and pretty hungry to return. After the fight against Anthony Smith, Glover mentioned my name and said he would fight against me, so the UFC offered me that fight and I immediately said yes.”
Surprisingly, Teixeira trained at American Top Team and also in Pedro Rizzo’s gym in Rio de Janeiro, just like “Marreta,” but they never crossed paths.
“When I arrived at ATT he had just left. The same [with] Rizzo. When I trained there, he was already living in the USA. But even if we trained in both places we would fight. That’s our job. I have a lot of respect for Glover, not only as a fighter but also as a person. But we think the same way. We are professionals and we have the same dream.”
Concerning his strategy against Teixeira, Santos believes he will have to develop a solid game plan as he considers his adversary to be one of the most well-rounded in the division.
“Glover is a complete fighter,” he explained. “I’ve heard some people saying he was a great ‘recovery’ matchup for me. I really don’t see that way. The results of Glover’s last fight [speaks] for itself. He is coming from four impressive wins, by knockout or submission, against top contenders. He is such a resilient guy, able to absorb impressive punishment and turn the fight with amazing submissions or knockouts. Definitely he is an opponent that motivates me a lot to train hard and face him being 100 percent, because I’m sure it’s going to be a war.”
Ever looking to the future, the 36-year-old has no doubt that a good win over Teixeira will put him in the title picture again.
“Doesn't matter if it’s interim or not. I’m planning to be [fighting for the] UFC belt again by the end of the year,” Santos concluded.