UFC analyst Dan Hardy, like many fight fans, recognizes that Thiago Santos faces a monumental task in his UFC 239 title fight with light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. Jones is far and away the more technical, versatile fighter, which would seemingly leave Santos with few paths to victory.
A Thiago Santos victory is, of course, a possibility — however slim.
Speaking on The MMA Hour on Monday, Dan Hardy gave his take on how the Brazilian knockout artist can succeed where so many others have failed against Jones.
In the former welterweight title challenger’s eyes, Santos will simply need to be the wild, brick-fisted brawler we’ve come to know him as. He’ll also need to stave off the perception that Jon Jones is the best fighter ever, and the mental hurdles that result from that perception.
“The obvious one is he has to be himself,” Dan Hardy said. “He has to not fall into that Jon Jones voodoo that everyone seems to get caught in. We saw it so much in [Jones’] last fights against [Anthony] Smith and [Alexander] Gustafsson. Guys fall into this trap where they never get started. He stifles every attack with just a poke or a prod or a feint. The danger for Thiago Santos is that if he gets caught in that with him, he’ll be stuck there for 25 minutes — or less, obviously.
“[Santos] needs to create opportunities, he needs to stay mobile and give Jon Jones a black face and not recognize him as the greatest fighter on the planet. He needs to attack him, he needs to damage him.”
What do you think of this assessment from Dan Hardy? Do you think Thiago Santos can shock the world if he sticks to things that have made him successful and doesn’t get hypnotized by the “voodoo” of Jon Jones?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 6/27/2019.