Like everyone else before him, Thiago Santos will have a tough task against Jon Jones. However, he is a “wild card” according to UFC 236’s Eryk Anders.
Jones will look to make yet another successful light heavyweight title defense when he is slated to take on Santos in the main event of UFC 239 on July 6.
In Santos, he will get a fresh and exciting opponent with legitimate knockout power, and one fighter who knows a lot about it is Anders, who lost to the Brazilian via TKO in September last year. So what does he make of the fight and the chances of an upset?
“He’s [Santos] a wild card, man,” Anders told The Body Lock’s John Hyon Ko.
“He throws a lot of crazy stuff, he does the capoeira stuff. But I think that Jon Jones, he doesn’t let anyone get started. As soon as they start to find a rhythm and a groove, he throws like a teep kick or one of those oblique kicks and he totally disrupts your timing. He’s super long and athletic, he can wrestle which I think is Thiago’s weak spot, he gets taken down pretty easy. Jon Jones got submissions, he can wrestle, he can strike, he figures people out pretty quickly.”
“[But] once again, four-ounce gloves, a knockout is always looming. But we haven’t seen anybody get close to hitting Jon Jones except for Gustafsson in his first fight. And Jon Jones was out partying and having a good time before the fight. I think now he’s a little more focused and honing in on his craft. He’s probably going to retire as the greatest of all time.”
Santos certainly has the power to knock out Jones, with seven knockouts in his last eight wins. The only question is if he can get close enough to the Endicott native and connect cleanly.
Anders received his fair share of strikes from “Marreta” and while the former college football player wasn’t truly knocked out by Santos, the fight was notably called off when he failed to make it to his stool at the end of round three.
“Yeah, he certainly hit me the most. That was a fun fight, to get in there and just trade and go back-and-forth with him. Yeah, he’s definitely the most powerful, the most skilled [opponent of mine]. I can’t think of anybody who has hit me harder.”
Gameplan for Jones?
Given the various opponents and different gameplans that have been used in vain against Jones, could one strategy for Santos be to just go all-out in the first round?
Anders is not against it, but it’s always easier said than done.
“Jon Jones, you’re certainly not going five rounds with him so you might as well go out there, get what you can get, hopefully clip him and make it ugly.”
“[But] Jon Jones, we’ve seen him make it ugly himself so it’s definitely a difficult puzzle to figure out. If it was me, I think I would probably just go out there, try and put it to Jon Jones and not let him get started. But a lot easier said than done.”
Anders is in action at UFC 236 on April 13 when he takes on Khalil Rountree and looks to end a two-fight losing run. You can see the full interview below: