As Thiago Santos squared off against Jon Jones for the UFC light heavyweight title on Saturday, the UFC 239 broadcast repeatedly speculated that the Brazilian fighter was hobbled by a torn ACL suffered at the end of the first round.
As it turns out, Santos’ injury was so, so much worse than just a torn ACL.
Thiago Santos fought Jon Jones with nearly every ligament in his knee torn
According to comments from his manager to ESPN, Santos tore the ACL, MCL, PCL and meniscus of his left knee as the first round ended.
That adds up to three of the four major knee ligaments, as well as the cartilage that cushions the knee joint. Despite all of that, Santos lasted four more rounds against Jones, and fought well enough to have one judge think he deserved the UFC light heavyweight belt. Jones eventually won via split decision.
The likely point when Santos’ ligaments were torn can be seen here:
Despite Santos seeming to barely be able to move and clearly favoring a leg, Jones surprisingly held off from trying to take the Brazilian Muay Thai specialist down.
After being carted away from the Octagon on a wheelchair, Santos told reporters that he had to fight in a different stance for the rest of the way.
"I left everything in there even after injuring my knee in the first round," Santos said at the presser, through a translator. "I fought four rounds on a southpaw stance, unable to move like I usually move, unable to throw the strikes I usually throw. I didn't shock the world because of those circumstances, but I did what I could do in those conditions and I'm satisfied."
That’s quite a performance against a fighter like Jones, who is undefeated outside of a disqualification loss in 2009 and is thought by many to be the most talented pound-for-pound fighter in UFC history.
Does Santos deserve a rematch against Jon Jones?
Santos’ manager reportedly told ESPN that Santos will likely be out for all of 2019 and beyond. He’s already facing a medical suspension until Jan. 3, 2020 pending the results of an x-ray on his left hand and left knee, which you can imagine will not be encouraging.
So Santos will not be fighting anytime soon. But when he does come back, you can imagine there will be calls for a rematch against Jones, one where Santos hopefully has all of his knee ligaments intact for the majority of the fight.
Jones has already acknowledged the possibility of a rematch, saying he’d be game as long as Santos can “climb himself back up the ladder.”
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