Thiago Santos won’t let any negative comment get inside his head going into his UFC Vegas 38 main event clash with Johnny Walker on Saturday night.
Speaking on a recent episode of MMA Fighting’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocação Franca, Walker suggested that his foe “already had his prime.”
Santos, who was also a guest on the podcast, laughed at the comments.
“He’s mistaken,” Santos said. “He’s mistaken. He’ll see that [Saturday]. On October 2, he’ll see if I’m past [my prime] or not. We’ll see what he’s going to say after the fight.”
Santos started his UFC career as a welterweight on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 2 in 2013 but ultimately moved all the way up to light heavyweight after a 10-5 run in the 185-pound class, where he beat the likes of Anthony Smith, Kevin Holland, Jack Hermansson, Nate Marquardt, and Elias Theodorou.
Santos talent really made a name for himself at light heavyweight, earning a shot at the gold after finishing Jan Blachowicz, Jimi Manuwa, and Eryk Anders in just five months.
Santos gave then-champion Jon Jones trouble at UFC 239 in 2019, losing a close split decision despite suffering injuries in both knees over the course of the 25-minute fight.
Now down 0-2 since having double knee surgery and losing to 205-pound contenders Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic in his recent octagon appearances, Santos feels no pressure whatsoever and says nobody “ran over me” in those three defeats.
“I was competitive in every fight,” Santos said. “I don’t know where he’s taking that from, that my time has passed, but it’s good that he thinks that way. He’ll be surprised. … It’s odd that he’s saying that. I’m still competing with the best. He’s very mistaken if he thinks that.”
Santos expects the Walker clash to be “very exciting” and “a great battle” to entertain the fans, and vowed to be ready both on the feet and on the ground because “he can bring new things to the table.”
“I’ll win with a brilliant performance,” Santos said. “A brilliant performance. People will be like, ‘F*ck, ‘Marreta’ is back.’ That’s the phrase people will say after the fight. It will be a brilliant performance. How [I win], there are many ways. I have many ways to end this fight. Many. It will be one of them, and it’s going to be a brilliant performance.”