UFC light heavyweight contender Thiago Santos says he was not in a good head space ahead of his recent loss to Glover Teixeira.
Santos met Teixeira in November. After sustaining some significant damage in rounds one and two, he was submitted by his fellow Brazilian in round three.
That fight with Teixeira marked Santos’ opportunity to rebound from a razor-close decision loss in a 2019 title fight with Jon Jones and, more significantly, a double knee surgery that robbed him of a year of his career.
Speaking to MMA Fighting recently, Santos admitted that returning to the cage after his knee surgeries caused him a lot of anxiety and fear.
“My last camp had too much anxiety mixed with doubt, fear of having another knee problem,” Santos said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I was still recovering, doing physical therapy, so it was different. I was only focused on training now, feeling my knee 100 percent.”
Santos added that, having watched the Teixeira fight back, he could see the ramifications of his anxiety in his performance.
“If you watch it, I only threw one kick the entire fight,” Santos said. “I didn’t kick too much. I usually kick a lot. I did more boxing. I think it was a [mental] block, a year and a half away, so that was the main difference. Now I know everything is normal again, everything is fine, so I can do everything inside the octagon.
“I think I needed to live this whole experience again, I need to enter the octagon, feel that adrenaline,” Santos added. “I think that’s what was missing for me to finish my recovery. I needed to feel that. It was excellent, and I feel recovered now.”
Thiago Santos will look to get back to winning ways in the opening bout of the UFC 259 main card this Saturday when he takes on fellow light heavyweight bomber Aleksandar Rakic.