In the light of the 205-pound Champion Jon Jones' arrest, Thiago Santos called for a fight for the belt with another Light Heavyweight contender, Dominick Reyes, over social media.
In a conversation with MMA Fighting, Santos explained the reason behind his challenge to Reyes.
Santos wants to fight Reyes for the interim title
In the interview, Santos explained that he does not want the Light Heavyweight division to wait in case Jones takes a break to get professional help. He is willing to fight Reyes for the interim belt to keep things going.
"I suggested this fight with Reyes in case (Jones) steps away to get treatment, like he said. I don’t think the division needs to wait. The division can go on, even if it’s for an interim belt between Reyes and I, since we both are next in line. Fans were already talking about this fight even before this Jones situation happened, and I said I was willing to fight Reyes, and then Jones fights the winner when he returns."
Santos last stepped into the Octagon for a title fight against Jones at UFC 239 last year in July and lost the bout in a split decision result. Reyes' title challenge also saw a similar fate at UFC 247 this February, ending in Jones walking away with a unanimous decision win.
Talking about Reyes, Santos gave him props for being a 'young and fearless' fighter, and he would love to face him in the cage.
"I think it would be a great fight, belt or not. (Reyes is) a great fighter. He surprised me last time against Jones, he was aggressive and went for it. He showed the great fighter he is, and I love facing challenges. He’s a young, fearless guy that comes forward, and that would be a great fight."
Santos gives his opinion on Jones
After the news of Jones' DWI arrest broke, Santos tweeted about the 205-pound division needing a new Champion, who is not always getting into trouble.
In the interview, Santos clarified that he means to throw no shade on the Champion and only wants what is best for him.
"It’s unfortunate – it’s sad. I never hid that I’m a fan of the guy even before we fought, and that hasn’t changed. Unfortunately he has those problems with alcohol, he posted a statement about it, and those are problems he has to fix. You can’t overlook that, but also can’t throw rocks at him. It’s only up to him. We hope he solves that problem with alcohol and recovers."
He hopes for Jones to fix his problems and recover, and also complete the punishment he got for pleading guilty to the charges - complete his hours of community service and stick to his probation. But while 'Bones' does that, Santos believes if there should be a fight for a shot at the title, he deserves it and is ready for it.
"It’s UFC’s decision. I’m here to fight if they need and call me... I just raised my hand and volunteered to fight. If there’s a fight to be made, I think I deserve it. And I’m ready."