Different path, same destination for Thiago “Marreta” Santos.
Fourth ranked light heavyweight Jan Blachowicz avoided the same type of war that bedeviled Eryk Anders in September and Jimi Manuwa in December, but still ended up with Santos standing him over, after a little right hand and a counter left hook dropped him in the third round. Santos followed that combination with some serious hammerfists and Herb Dean stopped the fight at 39 seconds of the third round.
It was a fascinating fight as instead of trying to initiate the kind of fast paced war that had been so effective for him, Santos choose to conserve energy, coming forward and trying to get going his big weapons going, the right low kick and the left jab. There was a lot of stance switching for the two men as they tried to find their distance. Santos’ kicks carried much of the first round as Blachowicz tried to find his own distance, occasionally finding success with a left kick to the body.
The second round was much more successful for Blachowicz, who was more effective with his body kick and his punches. Santos seemed to be getting more anxious as the second round went on, as he was starting to throw and miss with big left hooks. As the second round ended, the two were virtually even in strikes and the fight looked rather even going into the third.
Of course, the third round didn’t end up lasting long. Blachowicz was starting to move forward when Santos, moving backwards, landed a short right hand followed by a big left hook that dropped Blachowicz. Santos started raining hammerfists that Blachowicz was blocking initially but Marretta did not stop firing and Herb jumped in to start the fight.
This marks Santos’ third knockout victory since moving up to 205 pounds last year and his fourth win in a row since being knocked out in the first round David Branch last year at 185. It also marks Santos ninth fight since February 2017 and he is 8-1 in that stretch making him one of the busiest fighters in recent UFC history.
When he was asked who he wanted next, Santos did mention that he would in Las Vegas for UFC 235 and the Jon Jones-Anthony Smith main event but did not call anyone out. In a division that is thin at the top and given that he is sure to take Blachowicz’s number four ranking and with number three Smith (who Santos stopped in December 2017) fighting next, it is very possible that Santos will be the next title challenger…
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