Taila Santos won a lot of plaudits for giving flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko the toughest test of her long championship reign at UFC 275 on Saturday night, and though she ultimately lost out by split decision, her performance looks even more impressive now that it’s emerged that she actually fought for several rounds with a broken orbital bone.
An accidental clash of heads in the third round caused the injury and it was clear to see the impact of the blow as Santos’ right eye quickly swelled shut.
Up until that point Santos had been giving Shevchenko a torrid time in the Octagon with her strong grappling ability, but from the fourth round onwards it was Shevchenko who started to come on strong, making the most of her opponent’s limited visibility to make an impact in the striking department.
To her credit, Santos remained competitive even despite her injury and some even believed that she’s done enough to win the title by the end of the five round battle.
After the fight, Santos confirmed that her vision has been badly compromised by the injury she suffered.
“Yeah, unfortunately I couldn’t really see out of my right eye after it closed,” Santos said. “But, you know, I saw two Valentinas and I just tried to hit in the middle.”
Santos will now return to her native Brazil in preparation for undergoing surgery on her broken orbital soon.
“We had two options,” Santos’ manager Tiago Okamura said. “To have surgery here, and God knows how long we’d have to stay and how the recovery would take, or wait two weeks for the swelling to reduce a little bit and then have the surgery.
“The doctors said the long flight [back to Brazil] would not be a problem, and we would have a better support back home, since [Santos] would only stay with one person [in Singapore].”
The injury layoff will be a bitter pill to swallow after also missing out on winning the title, but Santos should take some consolation from the fact that she won a lot of fans for her performance on the night and has now firmly put herself on the map, with a big rematch against Shevchenko certainly a distinct possibility in the future.