The UFC will travel for the first time in Prague, Czech Republic this Saturday, February 23 (Sunday, February 24 in Manila) for UFC Fight Night 145 headlined by feared knockout artist Thiago Santos (20-6) versus former KSW Light Heavyweight Champion Jan Błachowicz (23-7).
Aptly nicknamed “Marreta” (The Sledgehammer in Portuguese) for his brutal kicks and punches, Santos has won 14 of his 20 bouts by way of devastating knockout stoppages.
The 35-year-old first burst into the scene as a cast member of the Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 2 in 2013. After losing two of his first three fights in the octagon, Santos found his groove and won four straight bouts, but was stopped in his tracks by former title contender Gegard Mousasi.
After going 3-1 in his next four bouts, the Brazilian eventually moved up a weight class and is currently ranked #6 in official UFC Light Heavyweight rankings.
Let’s relive his last five bouts in the octagon.
TKO over ‘Lionheart’
Santos’ career has been marred with inconsistencies so far, but he proved just how top notch he can be by finishing the current Light Heavyweight number one contender Anthony “Lionheart” Smith in their Middleweight bout last year.
After blasting and almost finishing Smith with haymakers and roundhouse kicks in round 1, Santos completed the job in round 2 by way of a forceful body kick followed by some ferocious ground and found.
Setback versus Branch
Failing once again to capitalize over a high-ranked opponent, Santos folded against seasoned veteran David Branch in his next fight.
After failing to gauge distance in the first few minutes, Santos got caught with a wayward right hook that dropped him to the floor. Branch followed up with vicious hammer fists and got the KO win at the 2:30 mark of the first round.
Three fight winning streak, rise to the rankings
Santos used the Branch setback as motivation and went with a more systematic and patient approach against Kevin Holland in his next bout, resulting in a three-round unanimous decision victory for the powerful Brazilian.
He went on to face surging prospect and former college football star Eryk Anders in September and engaged in an all-out war for two rounds. Anders failed to make it to his corner at the conclusion of round three and Santos won via doctor stoppage.
Santos faced “The Poster Boy” Jimi Manuwa next in a battle of hard-hitting finishers. After mauling Manuwa and almost finishing him multiple times in round 1, Santos struggled in the clinch and allowed his opponent to regain his bearings.
Sensing his foe’s urgency, Santos went for the kill in the following round and dropped Manuwa on his knees with a gorgeous left hook, earning him the third UFC Performance of the Night bonus of his career.