COCONUT CREEK, Fla. – Thiago Santos hopes of one day becoming a UFC champion got even stronger in recent months.
The former UFC light heavyweight title challenger is both in awe and inspired by what his former foe Glover Teixeira achieved back in October. Teixeira captured the 205-pound UFC title, dethroning Jan Blachowicz in the main event of UFC 267 just two days after turning 42 years old.
Santos (22-9 MMA, 14-8 UFC), who’s 38 and looking to challenge once again for the belt, sees Teixeira as an inspiration for his career.
“I feel so happy, so happy for him,” Santos told MMA Junkie. “He’s a good guy. He proved to everyone that it’s possible. (He’s) 42 years old and he became champion, so it’s possible for everyone.
“Really, it’s a big example for me. I’m not young. He became champion at 42 years old. I’m 38 so I have four years to do that, to work. I believe so much that I can become champion too.”
Teixeira returns June 11 at UFC 275 to defend his belt against dangerous striker Jiri Prochazka. The Brazilian champion is 13 years older than Prochazka and is considered a slight underdog by the betting odds despite being champion.
Santos sees it as a difficult fight for Teixeira, but also a winnable one.
“Hard fight, tough fight,” Santos said. “Jiri Prochazka is a tough guy, a crazy guy. He fights like crazy, but I see a very good opportunity for Glover to do his game and use his grappling. I believe if he finds the distance and takes Jiri Prochazka down, I believe he can complicate and win this fight.”
Glover Teixeira vs. Jiri Prochazka title fight shifts from UFC 274 to UFC 275 in June
As far as Santos’ career, the Brazilian looks to build off his decision win over Johnny Walker in late 2021 at Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 203. He takes on rising contender Magomed Ankalaev (16-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) in the main event of the card.
Santos believes a good win could put him back in title contention.
“If I win this fight, it’s going to put me so close to the next title fight,” Santos said. “Maybe one more fight or maybe I go straight to the title shot, you never know.”
Photos: Best of Thiago ‘Marreta’ Santos
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