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Thiago Santos wants to test Jiri Prochazka’s chin after UFC Fight Night 193: ‘I’m here’

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Thiago Santos sees a matchup with Jiri Prochazka as his gateway to a title shot after emerging victorious from the UFC Fight Night 193 main event.

Santos (22-9 MMA, 14-8 UFC) snapped his three-fight losing skid on Saturday with a unanimous decision win over Johnny Walker (18-6 MMA, 4-3 UFC) in the light heavyweight headliner at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. It was a critical performance for the Brazilian on the final fight of his current UFC contract.

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Although he’s 1-3 in his past four fights on paper, “Marreta” thinks he’s still a top contender at 205 pounds. His defeats came in a debatable split decision with Jon Jones, a submission loss to Glover Teixeira, and a ho-hum decision to Aleksandar Rakic. Moreover, all of those fights were on the back end of serious double knee surgery.

“I went through hard times since when I did my surgery – it’s hard to recover,” Santos told MMA Junkie and other media post-fight at UFC Fight Night 193. “I stopped (fighting) for a year and a half. I fought against Glover, lost. I took another fight against Rakic, lost. But no one run me over. It’s a tough fight. I fought against them against tough guys. Every single fight I feel better. It’s important to me. I go down and go up. … I was 100 percent going to fight better against Johnny Walker and this happened.

“I think I deserve something more. I want the champion. I think I deserve top 5, one more fight and I think if I win the fight I can go to the title shot again. I think I deserve that. I had a fight against the No. 10 (in the UFC rankings). I want a top 5 who can bring me to the title shot again.”

In Santos’ mind, Prochazka (28-3-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) would be the perfect fit to elevate him to where he wants to be. The former Rizin FF champ has made a giant splash on the UFC scene in just two fights, including a “Fight of the Year” candidate with Dominick Reyes in May.

Prochazka is currently tabbed as the backup for the UFC 267 main event between Jan Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira on Oct. 30. If his services aren’t needed, he’s likely to face the winner.

Santos wants to throw out an alternative option, though, and that’s a fight with him.

“Jiri Prochazka, if he don’t want to wait for (title) fight – I’m here,” Santos said. “I can fight against him. He’s a good fighter, all respect to him, but I watch his fights. He thinks his chin is strong, but it’s because he didn’t fight against ‘The Hammer.’ If he want to try to test his chin, I’m here. I’m here.”

For now, Santos said he plans to take one week off and enjoy the fruits of his labor. He was in desperate need of a win at UFC Fight Night 193, and although it wasn’t as spectacular as some of his other wins, he got the result he needed.

“It’s not always we can finish the fight, but I tried,” Santos said. “He is a tough guy. He is big, but he is fast. I tried to do my best, but anyway, I won that fight. No question about that.”

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Thiago Santos wants to test Jiri Prochazka’s chin after UFC Fight Night 193: ‘I’m here’