At UFC 239 earlier this year, Jon Jones was put through, arguably, the closest fight of his mixed martial arts (MMA) career.
Jones main evented the pay-per-view (PPV) against Thiago Santos, going all five rounds with the heavy-handed Brazilian, and just edging him out on the scorecards via split decision to retain the light heavyweight championship. Fans would love to see an immediate rematch between the pair, as Santos gave Jones fits throughout their contest, but the Brazilian is nursing two surgically repaired knees at the moment.
Speaking to MMA Fighting, Santos’ coach, “Tata” Duarte, reveals that the goal is to jump right back in against Jones upon Santos’ recovery.
“Our goal is to return against Jon Jones,” Duarte said. “Thiago is fueled by challenges, he had that bitter taste in his mouth, and this rematch would be the fair thing to do.”
In the meantime, the Santos camp fully expects Jones to fight one more time before fighting Santos again. However, Duarte is confident Jones will remain undefeated, allowing Santos another opportunity at handing Jones his first legitimate loss in MMA competition. The reason for this is simple. Duarte doesn’t believe Jones will fight “so reckless” again after his close call with Santos.
“Jon Jones will fight in the end of the year, and he will probably win,” Duarte said. “I don’t see anyone in the division giving Jon Jones any difficulties other than Thiago. (Jones) saw what happened (against Santos), and I think he won’t come so reckless. We’ll be back by March – that’s our goal – and we’ll be ready. Ready, motivated, happy, and with a different result this time.”
Jones has gone the distance with both Alexander Gustafsson and Daniel Cormier in the past, only for the latter two to be finished in their respective rematches with “Bones.” However, Duarte explained why he believes Santos’ rematch with the once youngest champion in UFC history will be different.
“It’s hard to map out what Thiago does,” Duarte said. “He has so many unorthodox strikes, (and) he moves too much. Thiago switches stances a lot, so it’s hard to take him down. We have to bring something different for a rematch, of course, but the main thing is to make Thiago 100 percent again. If he’s fully recovered, with a strong mind, he’ll put on a good fight.
“I think Gustafsson felt the pressure (in the rematch). I don’t know if he wasn’t well-trained. He didn’t appear to be in a good shape (and) looked a little chubby in the rematch. For someone who moves a lot, if you gain weight, it pays against you. And Cormier, I think that was 100 percent psychological. It wasn’t his day, you know? It wasn’t his day.”
Do you think Jones will fight more conservatively moving forward into his next bouts?