Coming off a stunning 29-second knockout over middleweight prospect Steve Bosse at UFC Fight Night 70 in June, "Marreta" faces another rising Canadian on Thursday night in Las Vegas, and sees him as just another opponent on his way en route to the top.
"You get more motivated when you’re coming off wins, but I have a goal," Santos told MMAFighting.com. "I didn’t enter the UFC to be just another one. I have a goal in my life. I’m motivated to get past every obstacle they put in front of me, and Elias Theodorou is another obstacle I have to walk over. I’m ready, and I will get past Elias."
Theodorou scored two of his three UFC wins by way of knockout, stopping Sheldon Westcott and Roger Narvaez with strikes. Santos, 3-2 in the UFC with three quick first-round knockouts, isn’t impressed by "The Spartan’s" striking.
"I don’t know if he’s tougher than my previous opponents, but he’s different," Santos said. "His style is more focused on holding the opponent and using his wrestling, to dominate and not let his opponent fight. He’s the first real wrestler I’m facing. Elias has some striking, I believe he went to Thailand in the past, but his strongest weapon is wrestling. It’s going to be a test for me, and it’s a good opportunity for me to show my wrestling if I need to.
"He’s similar to Ronny Markes, Ronny tends to use more of his jiu-jitsu instead of pure wrestling. Elias has better takedowns and control of the fight."
Gunning for another "performance of the night" bonus, "Marreta" vows to put a blemish on Theodorou’s record in Las Vegas.
"It’s hard to say how the fight will go, but I will try to finish the fight like I always do," he said. "I’m a striker and that’s what I like to do. I like to brawl, so we’ll see who will be able to impose his game. I will always try to finish the fight, and it won’t be different this time. I want to stop him in the first round, but I’m ready for three.
"I see myself knocking Elias Theodorou out. No other way," he continued. "He won’t handle the pain. I will beat him up bad, I will stop him."
"Marreta" wants to close 2015 with a perfect 3-0 run, and with that change the future of his family. Originally from Tata Fight Team in Rio de Janeiro, the middleweight added American Top Team to his training routine recently, and plans to take his family with him to the United States.
"We’re working on that. It’s not that simple, but I want to bring them here," he said. "Living here is good for me, life would be better for me and my family. My son is 11, and being able to study here and learn a new language is great for him to have a better future. I have this idea, but we’ll get there slowly. Who knows, maybe in one or two years we’ll move."
While they don’t make the permanent change, Santos will fly them from Rio de Janeiro to spend some time with him after UFC Fight Night 80.
"I miss being close to my family and friends when I’m here in the United States," "Marreta" said. "We make new friends here, of course, but I miss them. After this win, I will bring my wife and son here to have some fun, and then return to Brazil."