By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Thiago Santos' effort against Jon Jones at UFC 239 was impressive enough on its own. It became even more so when it was reported after the fight that he battled through most of it with a torn-up knee.
Marc Raimondi of ESPN reported on Monday that Santos tore his ACL, MCL, PCL, and meniscus near the end of the first round against Jones, who retained his UFC light heavyweight championship in a split decision. Santos noticeably stumbled awkwardly as he appeared to injure himself, then clearly favored his injured leg for the rest of the fight - even though he also reportedly suffered a slight tear in his right knee.
Silver lining? Santos didn't tear every ligament in his left knee. His LCL survived somehow. But he's now expected to be out for the rest of 2019 and likely into early 2020.
Injury or no injury, Santos (21-7) delivered one of the most admirable efforts ever seen against Jones, who improved to 25-1 (1 no-contest) with the win at UFC 239 on Saturday. Santos out-attempted Jones in significant strikes 166-90, but was simply far less accurate (via Forbes). Despite landing some good blows that might have dropped lesser fighters, Santos had too much trouble getting to Jones' head area. Jones is just too tough and too good at using his length and reach to land creative strikes while keeping his distance from his opponents.
It was the first time Jones was taken to a decision and did not win unanimously. And Santos accomplished that with essentially one leg for four out of the five rounds. Goes without saying how tough these guys are and the kind of physical adversity they battle through compared to just about all other pro athletes.
Santos may have earned himself a rematch with that effort. Maybe it's even more interesting next time if he's able to use both of his legs.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].