Thiago Santos takes on fellow The Ultimate Fighter alum Uriah Hall at UFC 175, but he’s not scared of his flashy knockouts or unorthodox attacks.
Santos scored one of the biggest upsets of the year with a 53-second knockout over Ronny Markes at UFC Fight Night 38 in March, and he wants to do it again on Saturday night’s card in Las Vegas, Nev.
"He’s flashy, has his own style, and I have to pay attention. He has unorthodox attacks and he can surprise you at any moment, but I’m not afraid of him," Santos told MMAFighting.com. "He’s tough, I respect him, but I’m not afraid. We both have two legs and two arms, and I will go for the win when as soon as they lock that cage."
Being the underdog doesn’t bother Santos. Actually, he prefers this way.
"Whatever. I think it’s good because he has the responsibility over his shoulders since he’s the favorite and he’s fighting in his country," he said of the betting lines. "Not that I don’t have any responsibility, but people are expecting more from him than from me, so he has an extra pressure over him. It doesn’t bother me at all. We’ll see who the best is in there."
"Marreta", which means "sledgehammer" in Portuguese, did his second straight camp at American Top Team for this fight, and he feels like a new fighter since losing to TUF: Brazil winner Cezar Ferreira in 2013.
"Right after my fight (against Markes) I got the news that I would be fighting at this card," he said, "so I started my camp in Rio de Janeiro and then I came here to American Top Team in Florida to finish it. I’m well prepared, I’m well trained.
"I came here after my loss to ‘Mutante’ to learn new things, breathe a new air, and adapted really well. I have great training partners, I learn so much here. Different people, different techniques. I evolved a lot and it made me more confident."
Santos comes from a striking background, but he had to adapt his strategy for a grappler like Markes earlier this year. Against a fellow striker like Hall, he feels he will be able to unleash his attacks more comfortably.
"Uriah is a completely different fighter from Ronny," he said. "I worked a lot of takedown defense for Ronny because I knew he would try to take me down, and Uriah is a striker. I know he also likes to take the fight to the ground and work on the ground and pound, so I trained everything in this camp.
"I can’t say it’s an easier fight because of his style, but it’s a different one," "Marreta" added. "It’s a complete different strategy. He’s a striker like me, but I can’t expect a stand-up fight only. It’s MMA and anything can happen, but I believe it’s going to be an exciting fight for the fans."