As the light heavyweight division is in the beginning stages of remaking itself following longtime champion Jon Jones’ vacating of the title in preparation for a move to heavyweight, a new challenger for recently crowned 205-pound champ Jan Blachowicz could emerge this Saturday. In the main event of UFC Fight Night, Thiago Santos and Glover Teixeira meet in a top-five battle.Watch free stream
Santos (21-7) is making his return to the Octagon for the first time since July 2019, when he lost a split decision to Jones in a title fight. Santos became the first man to ever defeat Jones on a scorecard and cemented himself as one of the elite light heavyweights in the world. That fight also resulted in a significant amount of damage to his left knee, suffering a torn ACL, MCL, PCL and meniscus.
The injury had Santos worried in the days after the fight that he may never fight again, as he told ESPN.
“All I remember about the time immediately after it was pain. A lot of pain. I couldn’t do anything alone. I needed help for everything. I did wonder if I would ever be the same. Even when the doctor first told me he needed to operate, that was a thought that passed through my mind.
“And once I started to feel all the pain, and the difficulty of not being able to do anything alone, it popped into my mind now and then that I would never fight again,” Santos said.
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Santos would slowly hit milestone after milestone, from walking without crutches, to running, to finally throwing kicks in the gym again. As Santos was finally ready to return to the Octagon, his planned bout with Teixeira was delayed when Teixeira tested positive for COVID-19. It was then postponed again after Santos tested positive.
At 41 years old, Teixeira should be close to riding off into the sunset. Instead, he’s riding a four-fight winning streak, including a big win over former title challenger Anthony Smith in his most recent fight. That run has moved Teixeira into position to potentially challenge for the light heavyweight world title.
His first title bid did not go well. In April 2014, Jones dominated Teixeira, winning all five rounds on all three scorecards. A follow-up loss to Phil Davis seemed to mark the end of Teixeira’s time as a title challenger. That was six years ago.
Teixeira bounced back from every loss, scoring meaningful wins and keeping himself in the conversation.
“When I lost to Corey Anderson, it was a down time in my career and the title seemed like it was so far away at that time,” Teixeira said in an interview with UFC. “They talked about the title and I say yes, of course, that’s the goal. I want to be a champion, but right now I have to do a few fights first and win more fights. And now I’m on a four-fight winning streak and I’m fighting the number one contender, Thiago Santos, and I’m very excited to be that close to my goal again.”
There’s one other storyline at play on Saturday night. UFC president Dana White recently said the “fight to make” is a bout between light heavyweight champ Blachowicz and middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.
Both Teixeira and Santos believe that a strong victory on Saturday can earn them a title shot before Adesanya in what would be his light heavyweight debut.
“We are going to see what’s going to happen after my fight,” Santos said during media day for the event. “I believe who wins the fight deserve to go to the title shot. We will see. I know Dana White spoke about Adesanya but no one knows. [Adesanya] don’t have contract, no one knows what’s going to happen. I need to do my best this Saturday. I need to win my fight and then after that we will see.”
Here’s the fight card for UFC Fight Night with the latest odds from William Hill Sportsbook.
UFC Fight Night card, odds
|Thiago Santos -240||Glover Teixeira +200||Light heavyweight|
|Tanner Boser -300||Andrei Arlovski +240||Heavyweight|
|Raoni Barcelos -360||Khalid Taha +280||Bantamweight|
|Brendan Allen -115||Ian Heinisch -105||Middleweight|
|Yan Xiaonan -150||Claudia Gadelha +125||Women’s strawweight|
UFC Fight Night viewing information
Date: Nov. 7 | Start time: 10 p.m. ET
Location: UFC APEX — Las Vegas
TV Channel: ESPN2 | Stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Thiago Santos vs. Glover Teixeira: Teixeira’s recent run has been impressive and defied the odds in returning him to the brink of being a contender. That said, Teixeira has shown some big flaws in recent performances and can absolutely be hurt on the feet. And hurting people on the feet is something Santos does well. There are plenty of questions about Santos coming in also. Will his knee hold up — and even if it is fine physically, does it affect him mentally? If Santos can get through taking some leg kicks and has the confidence to let his strikes go without hesitation, this should be his fight to lose. Pick: Thiago Santos via TKO2