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Thiago Santos hopes to fight Jimi Manuwa in December

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It appears Thiago Santos wants to continue testing himself at light heavyweight.

A longtime middleweight, Santos entered the Octagon on Saturday night as a member of the 205-pound division for the first time in his five-year UFC career.

A devastating knockout artist at 185 pounds, the additional 20 pounds didn’t seem hamper Santos’ performance as he sparked Eryk Anders, another fellow middleweight making the jump up in division, with a violent third-round TKO in their main event matchup at UFC Sao Paulo.

While many were keen to declare that Santos looked better than ever in his new weight class, “Marreta” was hesitant to call the change a permanent move.

“Anders is not a light heavyweight,” Santos said at the post-fight press conference. “[This fight] was more for me to feel what it’s like to make 205 pounds. I felt really well. I got tired but it’s normal to get tired in a fight so intense like that. I felt well and conscious of what was happening. I felt power in my punches but I was a little bit slower. So I’ll sit down with my coaches and see what’s going to be done.”

As for what he took away from his voyage out of his division, Santos couldn’t help but point out how much healthier his body felt after not having to cut that last 20 pounds.

“Even though my punches are heavier, I feel I was more resistant,” said Santos. “I took some hard punches and I didn’t feel them. At middleweight, due to the weight cut, and not being able to recover 100 percent, I am a little bit fragile. At middleweight, I was knocked out by [David Branch], who isn’t a knockout artist. He landed a punch and I was really upset by that.

“Today, [Anders] landed a cross, he landed some heavy blows and I didn’t feel it. So that’s good, too. So not only are my punches stronger, but I’m more resistant. So there’s a lot at play. We have to see the good and the bad and see which pass we’re going to take.”

Both Santos and Anders were serving as late-notice replacements for legitimate light heavyweight contenders Glover Teixeira and Jimi Manuwa. First Santos stepped in for Teixeira. However, last week Manuwa fell out with a knee injury, forcing the UFC to call in Anders.

At 6-foot-2, Santos is by no means one of the smaller fighters on the UFC roster. The problem is, with fighters like the 6-foot-4 Jon Jones, who cuts down to make the 205-pound limit, Santos is left with a massive size disadvantage inside the Octagon.

But if his body tells him to stay at 205 pounds, then that is exactly what Santos will do.

“I can make 185. That’s a fact,” Santos said. “I’m coming off three fights at 185. The problem is the recovery. I don’t get back to 100 percent. So what’s important is my health. Regardless of fighting someone like Jon Jones’ size or Alexander Gustafsson. But if I’m healthy, it’s going to be a war for them.”

As for who he wants next, Santos reiterated he has unfinished business with Manuwa.

“I hope that [Manuwa] recovers well,” said Santos. “I hope to meet with him in December so we can fulfill the contract that we signed.

“I want to fight at 205 against a guy that’s bigger than me like Manuwa so I can feel the pressure from a heavier guy. To see if I get punched by that guy and I change my mind and go back to 185 or step up. So, we’ll see.”


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