Thiago Santos: Fighting talent aside, Jon Jones will ‘be remembered as a doper’

RIO DE JANEIRO – Thiago Santos doesn’t have many bad things to say about Jon Jones when it comes to what the UFC champion is able to do inside the octagon.

In fact, if you ask Santos (21-6 MMA, 13-5 UFC) to list his top fighters of all time, Jones (24-1 MMA, 18-1 UFC) appears in fourth place – behind only Fedor Emelianenko, Anderson Silva and Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira, in that order.

When it comes to what happens outside of the cage, though, “Marreta” is not as impressed by the 205-pound champion.

Speaking to reporters in Rio de Janeiro about their upcoming UFC 239 headliner in Las Vegas, the challenger said that, as phenomenal as Jones is as a fighter, he doesn’t see the champ as a good role model. And though that doesn’t affect him, particularly, Santos doesn’t look too kindly on the impression that “Bones” will leave behind.

“That’s his karma to carry,” Santos said in his native Portuguese while attending UFC 237. “He will be remembered as a doper, he will be remembered as someone who drives intoxicated. These are his things. I have to worry about not being remembered for that.

“It’s his life, if that’s how he wants to live it… It doesn’t bother me. Like I said, inside the octagon, his talent is undeniable. Outside of it, unfortunately, he’s not a good example. It’s what I think.”

Santos isn’t the first one to make this sort of assessment of Jones. Despite being overwhelmingly regarded as one of the best fighters to ever compete in the octagon, the impact of Jones’ issues with failed drug tests, as well as the infamous hit-and-run accident to which Santos alluded, is often brought into legacy conversations.

The latest Jones-related controversy began last December, with an atypical test finding prior to his UFC 232 rematch with Alexander Gustafsson. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) concluded that the failure was the result of residual metabolites from a previous failed test and Jones was cleared to compete, but the card had to be moved from Las Vegas to Inglewood, Calif., and the decision was met with mixed reactions from fans and fighters.

Jones defeated Gustafsson to re-claim the UFC’s 205-pound title and quickly agreed to defend it against Anthony Smith at UFC 235. Again, the metabolite showed up in tests, in what was attributed to a “pulsing” effect (UFC vice president of Athlete Health and Performance Jeff Novitzky addresses the situation here).

Jones has maintained he’s never knowingly taken any performance-enhancing drugs. Although he was found to be negligent and had to serve suspensions for his two previous anti-doping positives, they were ultimately traced back to contamination.

Since then, though, the word “picogram” has become regular in the MMA lexicon. Gustafsson, on his end, remained unconvinced by Jones’ innocence and called him a cheater prior to their UFC 232 encounter. Smith, in turn, said he simply did not care.

For his part, Santos admits he doesn’t have a lot of knowledge about what the whole “picogram” situation entails. But he isn’t indifferent to the idea of doping, as he believes in an even playing field.

“If it works a certain way for me – I’ve been tested 26 times – it has to be the same for him,” Santos said. “No picograms have ever shown up in me. Why are there (picograms) in him? Is he an extraterrestrial? I don’t know, it’s weird. They should look more into that.”

Either way, Santos has a bigger concern in mind when it comes to their July 6 headliner at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

“I think what I’m afraid of the most is that he (expletive)s up before the 6th and the fight doesn’t happen,” Santos said. “That’s my biggest fear. That he messes up and the fight doesn’t happen. Because what we want is this fight.”

In the same chat with reporters, including MMA Junkie, Santos talked about his strategy for his first title match. And he had no problem admitting he saw no weaknesses in Jones, whom he assessed as an intelligent, adaptable and well-rounded fighter. His solution to a foe who seemed to do well everywhere, though, was simple: Make him suffer everywhere.

From what he’s heard, though, Santos will have to be prepared for more than an incredibly skilled opponent. As it turns out, Santos had some conversations with a prior opponent of Jones’ and received a tip about the champ’s strategies.

“I don’t know if that’s going to look bad for (Anthony) Smith, but he said that Jones is dirty,” Santos said. “A cheater. He uses things that sometimes the ref can’t see. Puts his hand on your eye. Uses non-valid things that sometimes the ref is not in a position to see. Then he hurts you, the ref doesn’t see it, doesn’t stop it and if you stop he’ll hit you and you’ll lose the fight. So, to watch out because he’s a little dirty, Smith told me.”

For more on UFC 239, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Jon Jones responds to ‘roider’ comments from Thiago Santos

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will put his title on the line in the main event of UFC 239 against surging division contender Thiago Santos.

Santos recently made headlines when he trashed Jones suggesting he would be remembered as a ‘roider’ and a ‘drunk’.

“It’s karma, he’ll have to live with it. He will be remembered as a roider, a guy who drives while drunk. That’s his business. I have to be remembered for not doing those things. It’s his life. If that’s how he wants to live his life, that’s his problem.” Santos said. “It doesn’t bother me. It’s like I said, you can’t argue about his talent inside the Octagon, but outside of it, unfortunately he’s not a good role model. That’s what I think.”

Jon Jones responded to Santos’ remark this evening on Twitter.

“I’ve shown my opponent nothing but respect yet today’s headlines are of him talking shit. 95% of my opponents insult my personal life before the fight, 100% of them end up losing the fight. Who’s ready for July 6?” – Jon Jones

“I don’t think he’s nervous, it’s just his way of winning some type of moral victory over me. It’s his insurance for when he loses, at least he’ll be known as a good guy.” – Jon Jones

”Bones” returned from suspension at December’s UFC 232 event in Los Angeles, where he defeated Alexander Gustafsson via knockout to capture the promotions vacant light heavyweight strap.

Jones would later defend his title by defeating Anthony Smith via unanimous decision at UFC 235 in Las Vegas.

As for Thiago Santos, the Brazilian sledgehammer has won four straight, which includes knockout victories over Eryk Anders, Jimi Manuwa and most recently Jan Blachowicz.

UFC 239 takes place July 6 live from T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Who are you picking to win when Jon Jones and Thiago Santos square off for the light heavyweight title at UFC 239? Sound off in the comments section Penn Nation!

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UFC 239 | Thiago Santos rips ‘roider’ Jon Jones

Surging UFC light heavyweight contender Thiago Santos will challenge current division champ Jon Jones in the headliner of July’s UFC 239 event.

The Brazilian knockout artist, Santos (21-6 MMA), is riding an impressive four fight win streak which includes finishes of Jan Blachowicz, Jimi Manuwa and Erik Anders respectively.

Mark Hunt

Meanwhile, Jon Jones was most recently seen in action at UFC 235, where he successfully defended his title with a unanimous decision victory over Anthony Smith.

”Lionheart” had remained respectful of “Bones” in the lead up to that fight but it appears Thiago Santos has no intentions of doing the same.

Santos recently spoke with Combate  where he ripped the reigning light heavyweight kingpin, Jones.

“I’m not bothered by it (the controversy around Jones),” Santos said (via BloodyElbow). “It’s karma, he’ll have to live with it. He will be remembered as a roider, a guy who drives while drunk. That’s his business. I have to be remembered for not doing those things. It’s his life. If that’s how he wants to live his life, that’s his problem. It doesn’t bother me. It’s like I said, you can’t argue about his talent inside the Octagon, but outside of it, unfortunately he’s not a good role model. That’s what I think.”

With that, Santos says his lone concern resides in whether or not Jon Jones will actually be allowed to compete this July in Las Vegas.

“The thing I fear the most is him stirring up some sh-t before the event and the fight falls through,” Santos said. “That’s my biggest fear, him messing up and the fight doesn’t happen. What we want is this fight. This picogram keeps coming up and nothing happens. Am I going to go against the grain? I’ll fight him and beat him.”

What do you think of the comments made by Thiago Santos regarding current UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones? Who wins at UFC 239? Sound off in the comments section Penn Nation!

 

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Jon Jones eyes three more light heavyweight fights

Jon Jones is set to once again defend his light heavyweight title in the main event of UFC 239 when he takes on Thiago Santos. “Bones” is coming off of a decision win at UFC 235 over Anthony Smith to defend his title.

There is no question the Brazilian will be a tough fight for Jones. Santos has tremendous knockout power, which he has showcased since making the move up to light heavyweight.

With that said, the champ is confident that if he sticks to the game plan, he will hear ‘And Still’ this July.

“Really just be who we are. Be who we are,” Jones said in a recent interview with BT Sport (transcript via TheBodyLock). “You know, Thiago is a very game opponent, aggressive guy, strong guy. I’m sure he’s extremely hungry.”

“But I know that I’m a tall feat. I’m a tall mountain to climb. And I just have to be who I am and don’t change anything really.”

Although Jones is clearly focused on his upcoming fight with Santos, the question of if or when he will move up to heavyweight is always there. His rival Daniel Cormier is the current heavyweight champion, and a trilogy bout between the pair seem inevitable. But, for Jon Jones, he believes he has three more fights at 205 pounds before he thinks of making the move.

“I’m thinking at least three more. The UFC has been kind of whispering after Thiago Santos, Luke Rockhold possibly. And then, I’d imagine Johnny Walker is going to be in that mix as well. So I think I got three really tough fights ahead of me before moving up.”

Rockhold is the former middleweight champion and is set to make his light heavyweight debut when he takes on Jan Blachowicz at UFC 239. Meanwhile, Johnny Walker has looked nothing short of phenomenal since joint the promotion. Johnny is full of confidence and believes he could beat Jones right now.

For now, Jones seems adamant to stay at light heavyweight but the possibility of heavyweight will always be there.

How do you think Jon Jones would do against these three? Sound off in the comment section, PENN Nation!

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 5/17/2019

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Check out the UFC 239 poster with Jones vs. Santos, Nunes vs. Holm

UFC 239 is drawing near, and now the International Fight Week pay-per-view event has an official poster.

UFC 239, which takes place July 6 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, promises to be one of the biggest shows of the year, with two title fights atop the card. In the main event, light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will defend his title against Thiago Santos. And in the co-headliner, champ-champ Amanda Nunes will put her bantamweight belt on the line against former titleholder Holly Holm.

Of course, there’s also the highly anticipated welterweight bout between Ben Askren and Jorge Masvidal to look forward to, as well as a heavyweight showdown of ex-champ Junior Dos Santos vs. Francis Ngannou.

With all those big names, the UFC could’ve gone a number of ways with the official poster. But the promotion settled on just featuring the two title fights, and here it is (via <a href="

I like it. I actually think it might be the best poster this year to date. They at least tried something a little different, you know? And the red backdrop makes the poster pop the way it should for an event of this magnitude.

But that's just me. What do you think?

For more on UFC 239, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMA Junkie’s blog space. We don’t take it overly serious, and neither should you. If you come complaining to us that something you read here is not hard-hitting news, expect to have the previous sentence repeated in ALL CAPS.

Twitter Mailbag: On Jon Jones’ latest heavyweight refusal, the legality of various slams, and more

Is Jon Jones’ latest heavyweight brush-off his true position, or is it tactics? Why does a submission attempt suddenly make dangerous spike slams just fine? And what chance are we giving Frankie Edgar against UFC featherweight champ Max Holloway?

That and other pressing questions in this week’s Twitter Mailbag. To ask a question of your own, tweet to @BenFowlkesMMA.

* * * *

First reaction? I don’t believe him. It strikes me as a negotiating tactic.

Jon Jones has said in the past that the UFC would need to up his pay in order to go up to heavyweight, but he’d do it if the dollar figures were right. I believe that. I do not believe that Jones is especially concerned about Daniel Cormier’s power at heavyweight. Even if maybe he should be, I just don’t think his mind would ever go there.

I also wonder if it’s an attempt to bait Cormier back down to light heavyweight. All that stuff about how devastating it would be for Cormier to lose the weight and then get beat again? It’s hard to hear that and not wonder if it’s Jones’ way of goading him. And you know what else? It almost seems like it could work.

You are not alone there. It’s hard to know for sure exactly what was going on with Tony Ferguson and what might have brought it on, which makes it impossible (and irresponsible) for us to speculate too specifically at his mental state from afar.

You’d hope the UFC took it seriously and made sure he was in a good place before offering him a big fight like this, just like you’d hope Ferguson’s team would speak up if they had serious concerns.

But see, the fight game is not known for prioritizing the mental or physical health of its athletes. Instead it’s known for doing whatever it takes to keep the machine running. So yeah, that worries me. I hope Ferguson knows what he’s doing. I also hope those around him are looking out for him, and not just for themselves.

First thing I do, obviously, is order a bottle of sarsaparilla. (Sioux City Sarsaparilla is a good one.) Then I twitch my bushy mustache, cock my head to the side, and peer out from under my cowboy hat at the visage of Dustin Poirier.

“You know what that Dagestani fella is gonna try to do to you, don’t ya?” I ask him.

Poirier nods and says nothing.

“My advice? Don’t get no closer to him than two awkward kids slow-dancing at the church social.”

Poirier scoffs. “Easier said than done,” he remarks.

Here I pause to sip knowingly from my sarsaparilla. “It is for a fact,” I say. “But that don’t make it wrong.”

He’s just about to get up and push away from the bar with a confused look on his face when I stop him.

“One other thing?” I say. “I wouldn’t say nothing bad about his homeland or his family or his religion if I was you. But have it your way.”

The way the “unified” rules explain it, the reason fighters can slam an opponent any way they want when the opponent is attempting a submission is “because they are not in control of their opponent’s body.”

In other words, the fighter going for a submission has a choice: release the hold and adjust your own body positioning or else hold onto it and take the ride wherever it leads.

You could argue that this assumes too much, and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree. Not all submissions or slams are created equally. And yes, it is dangerous to be out here spiking people on their heads, whether there’s a submission attempt involved or not. But danger alone is also in the job description, so it seems fair to me to put some of the onus on the slammee rather than the slammer in certain situations.

The alternative is, what, we outlaw slams of all kinds? We require any fighter attempting a throw or slam to take utmost care to prevent opponents from landing on their heads? We have a hard enough time enforcing the rules that are clear and obvious. Trying to get too officious with this one would be a nightmare.

Same. Max Holloway lost his lightweight (interim) title bid, but he’s still a force at featherweight, where his power and his pace typically overwhelms opponents in a way that just didn’t carry over into the next weight class. Frankie Edgar is terrifyingly tough. We know this. But I just don’t see that many paths to victory for him against a guy like Holloway.

Also, and maybe I’m just projecting here? But it seems like that was the assumption this fight was made under. Like, sure, we owe Edgar a title shot and we need something to bolster the summer lineup. But it’s fine because Holloway will win and Alexander Volkanovski can have his shot before the end of the year.

If you want to make the MMA gods laugh, though, go ahead and tell them your plans for a UFC title.

Has it really come to this? Really?? Fine. We’ve only seen Jake Hager fight twice and we have yet to see Greg Hardy against anyone who wasn’t chosen specifically because they seemed likely to lose, but I might actually have to go with Hager here. He has legit college wrestling experience and that’s where Hardy is probably weakest. You put that guy on his back, take him out of the first round, and suddenly he’s a lot more beatable.

For a little perspective, let’s remind ourselves that Kevin Lee’s two recent losses were to “El Cucuy” and “Raging Al,” both of whom are very good. If he loses to Rafael dos Anjos, that’s a former lightweight champ, which is also not exactly the bottom of the barrel.

But you’re right, if Lee wants to stay in the conversation at any weight, this is a fight he needs to win. The good news for him is that Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman already showed him how, and he’s a fighter who might be able to follow that blueprint.

On the flip side, if RDA hasn’t closed those gaps in his game by now? Sorry, it probably won’t ever happen.

Ben Fowlkes is MMA Junkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMA Junkie.