Light heavyweight elites will clash on March 12th when deadly veteran Thiago Santos meets rising talent Magomed Ankalaev in a proposed five-round main event matchup. The fight is said to be “being finalized” and Brett Okamoto of ESPN was the first to break the news.
Santos vs Ankalaev: An Explosion Awaits
Thiago Santos (22-9, 14-8 UFC) has dynamite power and a lot of experience on his side heading into this fight. Previously last seen in action against fellow Brazilian Johnny Walker at UFC Vegas 38, Santos would finally put an end to a three-fight skid that dated back to a 2019 split-decision loss against Jon Jones.
During the Jones fight, Santos tore the ACL, MCL, PCL, and meniscus in his left knee and wouldn’t return to the octagon for over a year. “Marreta” would return against Glover Teixeira, the man who’s now champion of the 205lbs division. The fight was extremely wild and Santos looked to have some inevitable ring-rust but still displayed his classic devastating power, dropping and wobbling Teixeira, but ultimately succumbing to a rear-naked choke in the third round.
Since then, Santos has gone 1-1 and hopes to keep this newfound winning streak alive. However, his opponent is as legit as they come, and will surely prove to be a massive challenge.
Magomed Ankalaev (16-1, 7-1 UFC) has looked unstoppable ever since his debut loss to Paul Craig in 2018. Ever since then, he’s been taking names and climbing his way up the totem pole. Four of his seven UFC victories come via finish, and this young monster holds wins over the likes of Ion Cutelaba (x2), Nikita Krylov, and Volkan Oezedemir. Not to mention his first bout with Cutelaba was so wild and ended so controversially they had to run it back again!
Thiago Santos will surely be Ankalaev’s greatest test to date, and a win here could put him on the shortlist of the title conversation. For Santos, defeating the young 29-year-old riding a seven-fight winning streak just proves there are levels to this game, and cements his status as an elite. If Santos were to beat Ankalaev on March 12th, he would be a gigantic step closer to securing his next title shot, and likely just one emphatic win after beating Ankalaev would do it.
Who do you think wins between these two deadly light heavyweights? Leave your prediction in the comments below!
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