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Thiago Santos admits he baited Jimi Manuwa with ‘trash talk’ tweet written by his manager

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Brazilian middleweight Thiago Santos headlines UFC Sao Paulo against Jimi Manuwa.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Thiago Santos returns to the Octagon for the fourth time in 2018 to make his light heavyweight debut against Jimi Manuwa on Sept. 22, and feels that he only got that opportunity by talking trash on Twitter.

“Marreta” is not very active on social media, but was advised by his manager Alex Davis to use the app to try to convince Manuwa to accept him as a replacement after Glover Teixeira was pulled from the UFC Sao Paulo main event with an injury.

”We volunteered to fight Manuwa and he didn’t accept it at first,” Santos told Brazilian reporters during a UFC media day Tuesday in Brazil. “But then my manager Alex Davis said ‘let’s provoke him on Twitter, say he turned it down.’ At first I said ‘no, Alex, that’s not my thing,’ but he said, ‘Trust me, let’s try to get this fight.’ He sent me that text and I put it on Twitter, provoking Manuwa.”

”That tweet went viral, a lot of people sharing it,” Santos said, “and the UFC put more pressure over him because there was no one else (to fight) and there was no main event for UFC Sao Paulo, so he ended up rising to the bait.”

Manuwa agreed to take the fight some time later, issuing a response to the middleweight striker on Twitter.

”Through that trash talk — which is not much of my thing, my manager helped me with that — we made the fight,” Santos said. “I went there and replied to him, said I don’t disrespect any opponent, but that he’s coming to Brazil and I would respond to him really well.

”I don’t know, I think that really got in his head, he was a bit angry, said some crap on Twitter, said he would teach me a lesson through violence, something like that [laughs]. I found it funny, I even favorited the tweet [laughs], but I didn’t pay any more attention. My goal was to get the fight and we had already got it, so it’s done.”

Speaking with reporters through Skype on that same media day, Manuwa was asked if Santos’ tweet convinced him to take the fight.

”So what does that mean? That I’m scared fight him, that I think I’m gonna lose?” Manuwa asked of Santos’ initial tweet, laughing about it. “No, that’s not the case.”

”He’s manager did a shit job in getting the fight done,” the light heavyweight contender continued. “It doesn’t matter what… Listen, I’m no trash talker, I’ve always let the fight do the talking for me, so it doesn’t matter what he says or I say, we’re got a fight and find out who’s the better man. It doesn’t matter he said or I said or his manager said or whoever said, we’re gonna fight on Sept. 22.”

If Santos’ tweet got the job done or not, it won’t change the fact that the fight is booked for the Ibirapuera gymnasium on Sept. 22. The lesson for Santos, though, is that being more vocal can bring benefits, including the first main event slot of his UFC career.

”I think I have to do more of that, but I can’t lose my identity, my characteristics,” Santos said. “I’m cool, no disrespect. I think there’s a limit to that. Maybe I’ll do it, but always with respect. There’s a limit, in my opinion. Guys like (Chael) Sonnen and (Conor) McGregor always cross this limit that does exist for me. I’ll do it when I think it’s necessary but without losing my identity.”