Thiago Santos will be kicking off the main card at UFC 259 taking on Aleksandar Rakic. The two light heavyweights will battle to see who will fit back into title contention. Both men have great striking meaning this fight could be fireworks from the opening bell of their bout at UFC 259.
Thiago Santos will be attempting to snap his two-fight losing streak at UFC 259. He lost a split decision to Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title in 2019. He then lost by submission to Glover Teixeira in November 2020.
Santos just made the move to light heavyweight in 2018 and has racked up a 3-2 record since then. He has light heavyweight wins over Eryk Anders, Jimi Manuwa, and current light heavyweight champion, Jan Blachowicz. Santos has an overall record of 21-8 and 15 of those wins are knockouts. He has only been submitted once in his career and that was to Eric Spicely at middleweight in 2016. Santos also holds wins at middleweight over Kevin Holland, Anthony Smith, Jack Hermansson, and Jack Marshman. Santos will be giving up a two-inch height and a two-inch reach advantage to Rakic on Saturday.
Rakic has a professional MMA record of 13-2 and is currently 5-1 in the UFC. His one UFC loss is a split decision loss to Volkan Oezdemir in 2019. His biggest UFC wins include Anthony Smith, Jimi Manuwa, and Devin Clark. Nine of Rakic’s 13 wins coming by way of knockout. He has never been knocked out in his professional career and has only been submitted once. That submission loss was his first professional fight back in 2011.
Rakic will come into the fight with a purple belt in jiujitsu. He will likely choose to keep the fight standing and won’t try to test out Santos’ black belt at UFC 259. Rakic will also come into the fight 8 years younger than Santos at 29 years old.
This is a really compelling fight to kick off the main card. There should be some really fun standing clashes in the early going, and this fight could end at any moment, with either man earning the finish. Rakic seems to enter this fight on more of a roll than Santos and is the betting favorite to get the victory Saturday night.
This could well be one of the fights that everyone is talking about Monday morning. If pressed, I think Rakic likely earns a tough, hard-fought decision. That said, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Santos regain his form and get a finsh.
UFC 259 Fight Card
- Jan Blachowicz vs. Isreal Adesanya
- Amanda Nunes vs. Megan Anderson
- Petr Yan vs. Aljamain Sterling
- Islam Makhachev vs. Drew Dober
- Thiago Santos vs. Aleksandar Rakic
- Dominick Cruz vs. Casey Kenney
- Song Yadong vs. Kyler Phillips
- Joseph Benavidez vs. Askar Askarov
- Rogerio Bontorin vs. Kai Kara-France
Early Preliminary Card:
- Tim Elliott vs. Jordan Espinosa
- Kennedy Nzechukwu vs. Carlos Ulberg
- Sean Brady vs. Jake Matthews
- Livia Renata Souza vs. Amanda Lemos
- Uros Medic vs. Aalon Cruz
- Mario Bautista vs. Trevin Jones