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Thiago Santos changed UFC 231 strategy in locker room: ‘I decided to brawl’

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Light heavyweight Thiago Santos reveals he owes his exciting performance at UFC 231 to a last-minute decision in the locker room.

It wasn’t supposed to be like that.

After a thrilling performance that earned Thiago Santos a Performance of The Night bonus against Jimi Manuwa at UFC 231, the 34-year-old revealed to Combate that slugging out from the opening second until he scored a second-round knockout was not what he and his team had planned.

In fact, ‘Marreta’ explained he was supposed to take his time and approach Manuwa carefully, but decided not to follow that strategy while in the locker room, just moments before the fight.

“I planned to go all out like that while in the locker room,” Santos said. “That was not the plan. I was supposed to move, capitalize on his mistakes and my footwork. But I stopped to think a little in the locker room and I realized how Jimi walks forward too much when the fight has a nice pace. He’s a sniper, he’s really good with his hands and he corners you and starts landing shots.

“So I told my coach Tata, I said we couldn’t fight at a steady pace. I wanted to step on the gas right from the start, go full speed. He told me to do what I felt well doing so I wouldn’t leave the Octagon with doubts. I had that in my mind, I didn’t want to watch him fight, like I did against David Branch. He (Tata) said he was with me no matter what I decided. That’s when I decided to brawl from the first minute. And it’s what I did.”

The win put Thiago on a three-fight winning streak, with victories over the likes of Kevin Holland, Eryk Anders, and Manuwa. The fight also marked Santos’ fifth outing in 2018, of which he won four, with only a knockout to David Branch. Before that, Marreta also knocked out current light heavyweight contender Anthony Smith, in a middleweight bout in February.