Since Jon Jones has returned from his suspension he has been very active.
He will fight for the third time since December when he takes on Thiago Santos this Saturday at UFC 239. The Brazilian will be fighting for UFC gold for the first time in his career and is riding a four-fight winning streak with three wins at light heavyweight, with all coming by TKO/KO.
Jones’ coach Mike Winkeljohn knows Thiago Santos is a dangerous opponent and that they can’t take him lightly.
“Yeah, he has that knockout power. He is very explosive and is very good what he does, Winkeljohn told BJPENN.com. “He is dangerous and can attack you first. But, we have to worry about the counter. That is the most dangerous thing about Thiago.”
Winkeljohn believes Jones has several paths to victory in this fight and one is to use his wrestling. He mentions Eryk Anders’ fight against Santos where the American stepped in on short notice and went 6/10 on takedowns as an example. But the coach also makes it clear they have to be smart when shooting as Santos can land his uppercut and potentially knock Jones out.
“Once Jon takes people down he lands the elbows and it is a bloody mess. So, the easiest path to victory is to take him down,” he explained. “But, with that being said, we don’t want to shoot and he lands a hard shot that hurts Jon. There are so many things that can happen.”
Although Mike Winkeljohn knows that can happen, he doesn’t believe it will. He mentions how smart Jon Jones is when he steps into the Octagon and reminds that the champion knows how to hide his takedowns.
He also believes Jones is as motivated as ever.
“When Jon decided to impose his will, no one can figure him out. But, that being said, if he starts walking in, Santos can throw one-shot that puts anyone out,” he said. “Those things can be scary, but I know Jon can beat him everywhere. There are aspects where we know we have a big advantage but Jon is the more well-rounded fighter.”
In the end, Mike Winkeljohn is confident Jon Jones will defend his light heavyweight title and continue to show the world why he is the greatest of all-time. But, they know they can’t take Thiago Santos lightly, as his past fights have shown, his power remains into the later rounds.
“He is scary the entire time and can throw at any time. But, Jon always breaks his opponent down little by little,” Winkeljohn concluded.
Where do you think the path to victory for Jon Jones is over Thiago Santos at UFC 239?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 7/3/2019.