Jon Jones defeated Thiago Santos via split decision to retain the UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 239. After five rounds, the judges' scorecards read 48-47, 48-47 and 47-48 in favor of the defending champion.
Judges Michael Bell and Derek Cleary agreed that Jones did enough to deserve the nod, while Junichiro Kamijo was the lone judge who awarded Santos the win. Per MMADecisions.com, 14 out of 18 media members also had Jones ahead on their unofficial scorecards.
A segment of critics believe Santos did enough to secure victory. Even the champ admitted that Santos gave him a tougher time than he had expected after the fight. During an interview after the main event clash, Jones said:
"Thiago Santos is a black belt in Muay Thai. I’m proud of myself actually. I stood and fought with a guy who’s been kickboxing way longer than me. I felt like I was winning. There was no need to go for a show, we were playing a very high level chess match in there. I think he made me look bad. Any time you out kickbox a guy who is a black belt in Muay Thai, you shouldn’t hold your head down."
Despite badly injuring his leg early on, the challenger appeared to have caused more damage to Jones once the fight was over. Unable to walk on his own, 'Bones' had to be assisted as he walked out of the octagon.
Thiago Santos hasn't won since losing to Jon Jones
Thiago Santos will be looking for his first victory since losing to Jon Jones in their 2019 title fight. 'Marreta' is currently on a three-fight skid after losing to top contenders Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic in back-to-back outings.
Before Santos can set his sights on the title, he must go through fellow Brazilian Johnny Walker. The pair will square off in the main event of UFC Vegas 38 at the Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada later today.
During a recent appearance on MMA Fighting's Portuguese podcast Trocação Franca, Walker suggested that his opponent “already had his prime.” However, Thiago Santos vowed to make Walker eat his words by turning in a "brilliant performance."