Thiago Santos

 Thiago Santos performed much, much better against Jon Jones than most people expected at UFC 239, even though, he incurred an injury to his left knee not long into the fight. Well, as it turns out, “Marreta” had a shortened camp for the contest, due to an injury he sustained to his right knee a little while back.

Santos threatened Jones on multiple occasions during Saturday’s headliner with booming shots, but was unable to land the fight-ending blow. The light-heavyweight champ managed to outscore the feared striker and Jones emerged from the competitive scrap with a split decision win.

Early on into the contest, it was clear Santos was dealing with some sort of issue with his left knee. Well, since then, the Brazilian’s coach ‘Tata’ Duarte  informed MMA Fighting that Santos had surgery done on his right knee not long ago to repair torn meniscus.

“The camp started with a 45-day delay and Thiago only had two months to prepare for this fight, but still didn’t want to pull out,” Duarte said. “… Heather (Linden), physical therapist of the UFC, was the one who recovered his knee. She was at UFC 237 in Rio and kept working on his knee for six days straight and found out what the problem was and was able to fix it. That’s when he started his camp.

“We told him, ‘Thiago, let’s pull out of the fight,’ and he said, ‘No, I won’t pull out.’ He didn’t want to. We did this camp in two months. It should have been at least three months, but we didn’t have that time.”

Now, would an extra month of training have made that big of a difference on Saturday? It certainly wouldn’t have hurt. But, a bigger debate that’s ongoing is how the fight would have unfolded, if Santos hadn’t injured his left knee early into the fight. Duarte, not surprisingly, believes it had a massive impact on the outcome.

“If that knee hadn’t stopped him, Jon Jones would have gone down, no doubt,” Duarte said. “Our game plan was all set, ‘Marreta’ was seeing everything. And after he started hurting Jon Jones’ legs he began to lose mobility, it was too easy to put him out, man, but we counted on switching stances to get it done. He started the combinations but couldn’t continue.”

It’s pretty hard to argue that the knee injury didn’t adversely affect Santos’ performance. How could it have not? That’s not to say that if it hadn’t happened, Santos would have ended Jones’ reign.

Santos is expected to undergo further testing early this week to determine the extent of his injury. Hopefully it’s not too serious and we’ll see him back in the cage sooner than later.

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