It was evident that throughout the fight something was wrong with Thiago Santos’ knee in his UFC 239 main event against Jon Jones. It buckled over and over again and caused him problems when he kicked or blitzed forward.
Now, after the fight, the Brazilian’s coach, Tata Duarte, revealed he had knee surgery prior to his pay-per-view (PPV) title fight:
“The camp started with a 45-day delay. Thiago only had two months to prepare for this fight, but still didn’t want to pull out,” Duarte said to MMA Fighting. “The doctor gave us a timeline but we had a problem later. Heather (Linden), physical therapist of the UFC, was the one who recovered his knee. She was at UFC 237 in Rio and kept working on his knee for six days straight and found out what the problem was and was able to fix it. That’s when he started his camp.
“We told him, ‘Thiago, let’s pull out of the fight,’ and he said, ‘No, I won’t pull out.’ He didn’t want to. We did this camp in two months. It should have been at least three months, but we didn’t have that time.”
Santos’ camp believes that, had his knee not been injured, he would have been able to at least drop Jones. Or, possibly even knock him out. He couldn’t put as much power behind his punches as usual. Now, the Santos camp waits for what is next, but they don’t believe it will be an immediate rematch:
“I think there’s no way that happens,” Duarte said. “I think Thiago will have to fight one more time and then they give him a rematch if the path is clear again. The UFC does what they want.”
“But I’ll say this: our goal was accomplished. He shocked the world. This guy’s life story, man, he comes out huge after this fight. He knows he’s a complete fighter, he knows he can do five rounds with anyone. He did five rounds with someone that people say is invincible, the best of all time, and did that on one knee. Imagine if he had both legs.”