Dana White and the UFC brass are giving us MMA fans an early Christmas with this incredibly stacked UFC 259 card! Featuring Santos vs Rakic, a pivotal matchup for the light heavyweight division that will see two explosive kickboxers go head-to-head.
In fact, the event is so packed; they couldn’t even fit former UFC champion, Dominic Cruz, on the main card! He’s headlining the prelims with Casey Kenney, a young killer looking to prove himself to the world against the legend that is Cruz.
Three UFC champions will defend their titles against three hungry challengers. Just don’t let that distract you from a fight that has the potential that Thiago Santos vs Aleksandar Rakic does!
The Road to Santos vs Rakic
Thiago Santos (21-8, 13-7 UFC)
Santos has more than earned his name of “Marreta”, or “Sledgehammer” in English. With 15 KO/TKO’s on his record, even on paper, you can tell this guy has power. Almost finishing Glover Teixeira at UFC Vegas 13, he would end up getting exposed on the ground by Teixeira in round three. Losing by rear-naked choke and leaving critics talking that “Marreta” had serious work to do improving his ground game.
With wins over the likes of Jan Blachowicz, Jon Jones (just kidding), Jimi Manuwa, Anthony Smith, and Kevin Holland, Santos has undeniably shared the cage with elite competition. As far as the Jones fight goes, many do say that “Marreta” should’ve got the decision, however, that’s a discussion for a whole other article! What is important, is that Santos tore his ACL, MCL, and PCL but still hung in until the time expired. With heart like that, one thing’s for certain. There’s a ton of fight in this man, and any win over him will not come easy!
Aleksandar Rakic (13-2, 5-1 MMA)
Facing his biggest challenge yet, this Santos vs Rakic fight is poised to elevate either man directly towards a title-shot. Let’s not say that one would be guaranteed for the winner of this fight, but it should be obvious that the victor will be in the title mix for certain.
First coming to mainstream notoriety with his savage head-kick KO over Jimi Manuwa; “Rocket” also holds a notable TKO victory over Devin Clark. Most recently seeing octagon action against Anthony Smith at UFC Vegas 8, Rakic would leave the world stunned after going on to dominate the veteran for 3 rounds.
Santos vs Rakic Fight Breakdown and Prediction
With the makings for an explosive matchup, we could be in for something more technical. While “Marreta” is known for his aggressive pressure and pace, could we see him slow it down and match Rakic’s more laid-back style?
The leg kicks of “Rocket” could be hard to deal with for Santos. However you could say that the power of “Marreta” is just a recipe for a good nap, so it shows why this fight is so intriguing. Many are speculating that Rakic could come in with a grappling-heavy approach, and it will be very interesting to see if the gas tank of Santos will be able to handle that! Could we see the “Rocket” tire out the “Sledgehammer”? Or will they earn their devastating nicknames even further with some fireworks on the feet?
For me, I’ve got to go with age and experience here. They say power is the last thing to leave a fighter, and although Santos isn’t getting any younger at 37; watching his recent performance against Teixeira shows how hungry this guy is. I believe he’s going to come out in a typical mega-aggressive fashion, and I don’t see Rakic being able to handle the power! If the “Rocket” Rakic proves me wrong, I could see him out-pointing Santos, through grappling control time and a menagerie of kicks.
What do YOU think about Santos vs Rakic? Leave your opinions in the comments below!