UFC-Sao Paulo winner Thiago 'Marreta' Santos feels he's on the rise, wants Derek Brunson next

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SAO PAULO – After what would have been his first UFC main event fell through, Thiago Santos says he was given two options.

He could wait for yet another headlining spot, or he could take a fight a week after his original appointment.

The choice was simple: He wanted to fight. So “Marreta” Santos, who’s currently the No. 15 fighter in the official UFC rankings, ended up paired with Jack Hermansson at UFC Fight Night 119. Coming off two TKO wins in a row, Hermansson offered a high-risk scenario. As dangerous as he was, beating Hermansson wouldn’t do much for Santos in the rankings.

Still, Santos said yes as he’s been known to do. Why?

“It’s a risk,” Santos told reporters after the FS1-televised main card bout at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. “But I’m already 32. I don’t think I have to make a career plan. That’s for a 20, 22-year old who’s just joining the UFC. I’m already 32. I don’t have time to say I’m going to wait six, eight months.

“I have to fight and win. The time is now. I feel good. I was well trained, injury-free. So I have to fight.”

The decision paid off. Santos (16-5 MMA, 8-4 UFC) ended up scoring a last-second first-round TKO over Hermansson (16-4 MMA, 3-2 UFC), who’d never been knocked out before. Not only has Santos added a third finish to his streak – with seven UFC knockouts, he is now is tied for second most in middleweight history, behind ex-champ and all-time-great Anderson Silva.

Santos has come a long way since his short-notice 2013 UFC debut against fellow “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 2” alum Cezar Mutante. He’s kept a high pace of competition, having fought three times a year for the past three years. In that time, he’s only lost in a last-minute meeting with Gegard Mousasi and was upset by Eric Spicely.

While Santos still sees a lot of room for improvement, he also feels he’s on the rise. And the fact that it may have been quiet is no problem for the middleweight.

“A guy who has seven knockouts in the biggest promotion in the world should have been noticed by now,” Santos said. “If they haven’t already, whatever. Even better, (my opponents) can be reckless, think I’m not going to touch them, like (Hermansson) did. But when I touch them, they’ll fall.”

While “Marreta” has been clear about his desire to make the most out of octagon opportunities, he’s ready for a small break. Which means, for now, no more fighting in 2017. Early next year, though, sounds good.

As for whom that could be against?

The soft-spoken Santos isn’t one for aggressive callouts. But he did name Derek Brunson as a good option. And that was even before Brunson knocked out Lyoto Machida to, like Santos did that night, add a seventh knockout win to his own UFC record.

“Whether he wins or loses against Lyoto, I’ll take the fight with him,” Santos said. “All he needs to do is take it, too.”

Whether the matchup will materialize or not, we can anticipate Santos’ gameplan to be basically the same as always.

“Everyone knows my strategy: to strike and make my opponent feel pain,” Santos said. “That’s it.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 119, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Anxiety no longer stifles UFC Fight Night 119's Jack Hermansson

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SAO PAULO – Coming into a fight in peak condition is great if you’re a fighter. But then again, it’s a pretty much a job requirement.

Mastering pre-fight jitters is a highly individual task, and whether or not a fighter is successful depends on many variables, some of which are uncontrollable.

As confident as UFC middleweight Jack Hermansson looks inside the octagon, he admits he still wrestles with anxiety. Heading into a fight, the same fears clutch at him.

“It’s the nerves before you go out,” Hermansson (16-3 MMA, 3-1 UFC), who faces Thiago “Marreta” Santos (15-5 MMA, 7-4 UFC) on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 119, told MMAjunkie. “I feel like it’s still in me when I’m in the octagon – too much.”

But after four fights, those fears don’t have the same hold.

“I think I’ve always had some challenges mentally, and I still have them,” he said. “But what makes me confident is that even though I’m feeling the anxiety, I’m able to perform.

“So I know that when I step up my mental game, I’ll be unbeatable. I think I still have some things to work on, but we’re getting there.”

For all his struggles behind the scenes, Hermansson is enjoying a moment of success in the UFC. He’s won his past two fights by TKO, and is 3-1 in the octagon. When newcomer Michal Materla dropped out of Saturday’s event at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, the promotion called him on short notice.

It’s the second time Hermansson has been called into hostile territory on short notice. But he feels better prepared to meet the challenge.

Hermansson now visualizes success on a regular basis to prepare his mind for the same outcome in the cage. He talks about his anxiety with fighters who are good at managing it

Still, he notes, he can never predict when his nerves might strike. So it’s a never-ending process.

“Hopefully, I’m going to get out there and be the best ever,” he said.

For more on UFC Fight Night 119, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Having a bad day? These pics of kids getting a cool MMA masterclass from UFC fighters in Rio should help

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As far as MMA introductions go, it’s hard to top the masterclass a group happy-looking children and teenagers from social projects in Rio de Janeiro got this past Saturday.

As part of the celebrations of the one-year anniversary the 2016 Olympic Games held in Rio, former PRIDE heavyweight champion and UFC Hall of Famer Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was joined by six active UFC fighters in teaching the free class, held at the venue that hosted basketball competitions at the Olympics.

Former strawweight title challenger Jessica Andrade, flyweight Alexandre Pantoja, lightweight Alan Patrick, strawweight Poliana Botelho and middleweights Vitor Miranda and Thiago “Marreta” Santos all shared some knowledge.

“Social actions like these bring the children closer to martial arts and work as motivation for them to follow this path, as many have little access to sports,” Nogueira stated. “I believe that, by allowing direct access with idols such as UFC fighters, we help both the self-esteem and the development of these children.

“I’ve been working with this for a while and I understand how much the engagement between sports and social projects benefits the future of or country.”

Did the kids enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience? Check out the photos in the gallery above and decide for yourself.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie