Aleksandar Rakic hopes Israel Adesanya wins at UFC 259, wants to ‘take all his legacy’

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Mike Bohn and Ken Hathaway
·2 min read
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LAS VEGAS – Aleksandar Rakic thinks a win over Thiago Santos at UFC 259 will solidify a light heavyweight title shot.

“It’s a great opportunity to show I’m ready for the title,” Rakic told reporters, including MMA Junkie, on Wednesday at UFC 259 media day. “The new era is coming.”

Rakic (13-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) meets Santos (21-8 MMA, 13-7 UFC) in Saturday’s main card opener, which is a crucial bout at 205 pounds. It’s a good position to be in as champion Jan Blachowicz puts the belt on the line against middleweight champ Israel Adesanya in the main event.

Rakic prefers Adesanya (20-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC) wins the fight against Blachowicz (27-8 MMA, 10-5 UFC), because it would present the most marquee matchup for him in a title shot.

“Honestly I would like to fight Israel,” Rakic said. “He’s the biggest name. All respect to Jan, he’s the champion, but Israel is the bigger name. To fight against him and to win against him and take all his legacy would be great.”

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Rakic said he’s not trying to look past the task at hand. He knows that despite Santos, a former title challenger, is coming off back-to-back losses to Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira, he’s still a big threat inside the octagon.

“Santos came out in the fight against Jones with two broken knees, and he did surgery on both of those and he did a long layoff,” Rakic said. “I know how that feels, because I also did two knee surgeries and I know how long it takes to heal. Not only the physical part can get it done early, but the mental part is going to be long. The fight against Glover, you could see ring rust, but he’s still dangerous. He dropped Glover two or three times then Glover finished him. I’m expecting now a motivated Santos because he lost the last two in a row, and he’s going to come forward. I’m ready for him.”

Ultimately Rakic knows that his performance at UFC 259 will determine where he fits into the landscape for the next title shot. And it’s his goal to send a big message to both fans and the UFC brass.

“Absolutely I need to make a great performance on Saturday like I do always” Rakic said. “Let the UFC know I’m coming for the title.”

UFC 259 takes place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The main card streams on ESPN+ pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+.

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