Magomed Ankalaev’s next test is a one-time light heavyweight title challenger.
MMA Fighting’s Damon Martin and Guilherme Cruz confirmed with sources with knowledge of the matchup that Ankalaev (16-1) and Thiago Santos (22-9) are in talks to headline the UFC’s March 12 event, with a location still to be determined. ESPN was first to report the matchup.
Ankalaev is currently the No. 9 light heavyweight in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings, with Santos one spot behind him at No. 10.
Since losing in his UFC debut by last-second submission to Paul Craig, Ankalaev has been a force at 205 pounds. He has won seven straight fights, most recently defeating one-time UFC title challenger Volkan Oezdemir by unanimous decision at UFC 267 in October.
“Marreta” recently snapped a three-fight skid with a unanimous decision win over Johnny Walker in the main event of UFC Vegas 38. Santos’ losing streak began with a title fight loss to Jon Jones in July 2019, a bout that the Brazilian narrowly lost by split decision. He is 4-3 since moving up to the light heavyweight division.