For one night, Jon Jones didn’t look like the unbeatable force that’s reigned over the UFC’s light heavyweight division for the last 10 years. Thiago Santos snapped blistering leg kicks, stayed out of the champ’s path and countered him with a flurry of shots in their main event fight at UFC 239.
Just as Santos looked to have the upper hand, everything changed. He tossed a leg kick to open the second round and his left knee buckled. He favored the knee throughout the round and by the time he entered the fifth and final frame, could barely move.
But that didn’t stop Santos from pressing forward. On one leg, he did something no one else has been able to against Jones: he won the fight on at least one scorer’s card. On the other two scorer’s cards, he lost narrowly, 48-47 and 48-47. Again, on one leg. And just two days after the fight, it was discovered Santos tore literally everything in his knee. His ACL, MCL, PCL and meniscus were all shredded, and he nearly beat one of the greatest fighters of all-time.
Maybe that revelation will change UFC president Dana White’s mind. Brett Okamoto from ESPN relayed White’s claim after the fight, saying Jones clearly won the bout and that he’s “not interested” in a rematch.
Should White grant the rematch eventually, it likely won’t be until 2020. Santos will be shelved for the rest of the year and beyond while he recovers from the knee injury. When he comes back, he’ll surely have to earn his way into championship contention yet again. After Jones’s toughest challenge to date, there’s no question the champ should be chomping at the bit to prove Saturday was a fluke against a healthy Santos.