Thiago Santos eyeing July return, turned down UFC’s offer of unranked opponent

Thiago Santos
Image: UFC on Instagram

UFC light heavyweight contender Thiago Santos says he is planning a comeback to the Octagon in July and he has already been offered an opponent by the UFC.

Santos last competed at UFC 239 in July 2019 when he lost a split decision to UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. It was the most competitive fight of Jones’ MMA career since the Alexander Gustafsson fight at UFC 165 in September 2013, though Dominick Reyes recently had a great showing against Jones at UFC 247.

Santos suffered devastating injuries to his knees in the Jones fight and had double knee surgery after the bout. He has been on the sidelines ever since, though he recently returned to training.

In a new interview with MMAFighting.com, Santos says he is targeting a July return to the Octagon. “Marreta” is hoping for a rematch against Jones, but realizes that’s unlikely to happen with Reyes and Jan Blachowicz ahead of him in the pecking order at this point.

“That’s what I want, but it’s not up to me. The scenario has changed. It’s not up to me,” Santos said.

According to Santos, the UFC has already contacted him and offered him an opponent for his return to the Octagon. However, Santos says that the person they offered him isn’t even ranked in the top-10, and he turned the fight down. For Santos, he believes he’s earned a ranked opponent with a name, and it’s hard to disagree with him after the incredible showing he had against Jones last summer.

“They want to give me fights I don’t want. I never turn fights down, no matter who they are. But I’ve earned something, and I won’t accept anything less. I won’t take a step back. They want to give me something that represents a step back, and I won’t take a step back,” Santos said.

“I can’t say his name because it could get me in trouble, but they offered someone who’s not in the top-10. I don’t think it’s fair to fight someone outside the top five or six or someone who’s on a rise. I was very upset when they offered someone who’s coming off a loss, you know? I refuse to take a step back. It’s not fair. If that’s how it goes, we’re gonna have problems getting our next fight.”

Who would you like to see Thiago Santos fight in his return to the Octagon?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 2/18/2020.