Santos has been booked for a bout with the light-heavyweight champ at UFC 239, July 6th, after winning four straight fights. More recently, Santos has leaped up the 205 ranks by taking out contenders like Jimi Manuwa and Jan Blachowicz.
Well, the consensus seems to be that Santos will look to utilize his kickboxing skills against Jones when they battle, and that the latter, could try putting his wrestling to work. But, while talking about Jones’ game recently, Santos said this (quotes via MMA Junkie):
“If there was a formula, or a secret, someone would have figured it out already,” Santos said. “That’s something we’ll see then. We’re working on it, my coaches are studying him, but I think he’s a very intelligent guy. He adapts. If the fight is bad on the feet, he goes to the ground. If it’s bad on the ground, he goes to the feet. If it’s bad at the center of the cage, he takes it to the fence. If it gets bad on the fence, he takes it to the center.”
“We haven’t really been able to see a weakness in his game. But we have never seen him with his back against the ground – better yet, with his back to the ground and a hand landing heavily. Then, we’ll see. That’s something we haven’t seen, how he reacts to a powerful ground-and-pound from the top. But anyway, more than ever I need to be ready for anything. He’s a very well-rounded guy, he adjusts to wherever the fight is, so my strategy is to make him feel bad wherever he is.”
Santos is certainly right that we haven’t seen Jones working off his back very much, and taking much punishment, if any, on the ground. So, could this indicate “Marreta” might try to go that route when the face-off?
When you consider Santos has only attempted twenty takedowns during his UFC run, as well as the wrestling background of Jones, it would be pretty shocking if his approach was wrestling centric. But, if Santos has Jones backpedaling and he sees an opportunity, maybe we will see him shoot in on the champ’s legs. Now, are we going to see Jones go for a takedown? That seems much, much more likely.
UFC 239 will be hosted by the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Jones will be competing for the first time since March, when he outscored Anthony Smith for the decision win.