If Thiago Santos beats Jon Jones in the main event of UFC 239 on Saturday night, don’t say he didn’t warn you.
Despite being pegged as a massive bettering underdog against the seemingly unbeatable champion, the Brazilian challenger claims he has successfully humanized Jones in his mind, and is prepared to cudgel the champion just as he has all of his other recent opponents.
“We can’t take the merit (away from) Jon Jones,” Thiago Santos told MMA Junkie ahead of UFC 239. “He’s a great fighter. He’s done what he’s done with all these tough guys. But at the end of the day, he’s a man who has two legs and two arms. I don’t care how big of a fighter or how big of a name he has. I’m going to go out there and beat him.
“I’m aware of the challenge, but I look at him as just another man who feels and bleeds just like everybody else. It’s never easy. I know the challenge that’s in front of me. I’m sure he’s very well prepared as I am, and I’m going to go out there and show that.”
While many fighters seem to lose to Jon Jones before they even enter the cage with him, finding themselves psychologically deflated by the champion’s accomplishments and aura, Thiago Santos says he’s not even nervous about the mammoth task ahead.
“I’m ready,” he said. “It is what it is. I think the fans are more nervous than I am.”
Thiago Santos has won his last four fights, defeating Jan Blachowicz, Jimi Manuwa, Eryk Anders and Kevin Holland. He knocked out three of those men, and seems to envision a similarly brutal destiny for Jon Jones — hard as it may be for the rest of the world to fathom at this juncture. But don’t say he didn’t warn you.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 7/5/2019.