When Thiago Santos and Uriah Hall step into the octagon at UFC 175 on Saturday night, it will be a clash of two strikers coming off impressive knockout wins.
Santos (9-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) was last seen blasting Ronny Markes out of the UFC with the help of a liver kick in one of the biggest betting upsets in promotional history. Hall (8-4 MMA, 1-2 UFC), on the other hand, dismantled Chris Leben so badly “The Crippler” skipped off into retirement.
The two fighters, Santos from Brazil and Hall from USA, will face off on the pay-per-view main card of the event, which goes down from Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Events Center following prelims on FOX Sports 1 and UFC Fight Pass.
While most fighters change their strategy from fight to fight, Santos and Hall typically prefer to trade blows on the feet whenever possible. Because of that, Santos believes the likelihood of yet another knockout is quite high.
“Since the fight starts on the feet, there’s a good chance of a knockout,” Santos told MMAjunkie. “We’ll see once we’re in the cage. It’s MMA, so it’s hard to predict, since either one of us can take the fight to the ground. Anything is possible in MMA.”
Santos attributes the shocking upset in his most recent fight to a change in scenery. After spending many years in his home country of Brazil, the 30-year-old opted to take his talents north to American Kickboxing Academy, a Florida-based gym that’s home to a plethora of top athletes.
The results from training at ATT were immediate, and Santos returned to the camp in anticipation of his upcoming fight with Hall. While Santos admits it’s difficult to leave the comfort of his home country, he says the distance from family and friends increases his drive to succeed.
“I miss (my family), no doubt,” Santos said. “But that’s the nature of my life. I’ve always traveled for training. If anything, being away makes me more focused and hungry to win, so I can return to my loved ones.”
Saturday’s bout in “Sin City” marks Santos’ first fight outside of Brazil, which, including travel, jet-leg and countless other facts that involve fighting away from home, only adds significance for what could be deemed the biggest of his career.
“He is certainly a dangerous athlete,” Santos said. “I can’t take my eyes away for one second. He’s a striker like me. I’ll have to be very focused on every move he makes. I think it will be an exciting fight for the fans. We’re both motivated. It will be great fight.”
For more on UFC 175, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.