Well, Thiago ‘Marreta’ Santos proved he could beat a guy who didn’t know he would be fighting six days ago. In the main event of UFC Sao Paulo, Santos finished Eryk Anders with a flurry of what hatchet-like elbows at the end of the third round. The repeated strikes to Anders’ temple lead to a scary display of a dazed and exhausted Anders stumbling twice on his way back to the corner, forcing Goddard to wave off the contest.
Prior to that fight ending sequence, Santos edged pretty much every exchange on the feet. Each time Anders tasted Santos’ power in those moments, he dove in on a badly telegraphed takedown which, for the most part, Santos was able to defend. Anders took Santos down a couple of times, but he mostly bounced right back up. When Anders was able to lay on Santos for more than five seconds, he failed to deliver any damage.
It was an underwhelming display from ‘Ya Boy’, which is understandable given that he was coming in on extreme short notice. Plus the fight was being contested at light heavyweight. Although it was a first for both men, Santos — who looked physically more impressive at 205 lbs — had much more time to prepare.
What was the high point of the fight?
Santos’ elbow barrage at the end of the third is undoubtedly the moment of the fight.
Even though he looked quite tired in the third round, Santos was still able to generate enough energy to flurry at Anders with wild combos. Those outbursts tended to land at least one solid strike on Anders, which was enough to make the American shoot for a takedown.
This sequence of events happened multiple times during the fight, with Santos being patient and waiting for an opportunity to separate and get back to striking. Eventually Santos thought to target Anders head while he was pushed up against the cage. A series of elbows to the temple popped out Anders mouth-piece towards the end of round. Goddard stopped the action, put the piece back in Anders’ mouth, and then had both men get back into the previous position. When the action restarted, Santos went ham. He threw punches before returning to short elbows and then hammered away until the bell rang.
When Goddard separated them, Anders looked in all kinds of trouble. He barely made it to his feet. And once he did, he went back down again. He had no business continuing the fight and Goddard had no choice, but to call the thing off.
Where do these two go from here?
Santos said that the light heavyweight division was his new home. Beating a middleweight isn’t exactly going to shoot him into title contention. Given his track record in the UFC (19-6 with some marque losses) Santos might crack the top 15 of his new division. At the 15 spot right now is Nikita Krylov, who lost in his UFC return last weekend. Maybe ‘Al Capone’ is a better barometer for what Santos can do at 205 lbs.
For Anders this was a low-risk-high-reward fight, given the circumstances that surrounded the match-up. The loss shouldn’t hurt his stock too much in the middleweight division, which he claimed was his number one priority before this fight went down. A win would have fast tracked him into the rankings. But without that you can expect him to be tested a few more times before getting a crack at another well-known middleweight.
Watch it now, later, or never?
This bout did win Fight of the Night honors. That said, the finish was unusual, but seeing Anders so fogged out wasn’t enjoyable. The fight leading up to it was a sloppy affair. Santos looked tired for periods of the fight and Anders looked under-prepared. Neither men’s careers will be made or broken with this one. Ultimately, it was a slapped together match-up which delivered on it’s low expectations.
Check out the highlights, below: