The veteran Brazilian competitor didn’t have the impact he was looking for in the UFC when he returned there last year, but after putting a slew of personal problems behind him and just focusing on being the best he could be in the ring or cage, the results started to show.
In his last two fights, Santiago has gone 2-0 with stoppages in both bouts while competing in Titan Fighting Championships.
His latest bout just last Friday, it took Santiago only 94 seconds to put away Justin Guthrie with a nasty inverted heel hook. The funny thing is, that’s not even something Santiago practices on even a semi-regular basis.
“That move was something that I do not often, I have to say that. Last time I used it was when I fought in Japan against Siyar (Bahadurzada). It’s something I use when the time comes, and I never realized I could finish the fight in that position,” Santiago revealed when speaking to MMAWeekly.com on Monday.
Following a tough run in only two fights back in the UFC, Santiago is starting to breathe again and find new life with his team at the Blackzilians in Florida. As an original member of the camp, it took Santiago a little while to acclimate to the new team and new trainers, but he’s now found himself and the results are starting to show.
“This is not the new, but the old Jorge Santiago from Japan. The old one, nothing else distracts me anymore, the only thing I have to do now is go out there and fight the way I like to fight, that’s it. Everything is getting more light for me, even the weight,” said Santiago.
The weight comment holds an extra special meaning because following his last fight in Titan Fighting over the weekend, Santiago decided that he would be dropping down to 170lbs and testing the welterweight division.
Over the years, Santiago has done very well for himself at 185lbs, but as the sport continues to grow and evolve and competition keeps getting bigger and stronger, he need to even the playing field a bit.
“I was a guy who never liked to lose too much weight, but I always was around my weight to be on weight. I changed my diet and I changed a few things and the time comes, and it’s so easy to make 185, and I was thinking I was never a strong 185. At 185 I could do a lot of things, striking and jiu-jitsu, but I never took a finish being the strongest guy in the ring. Some guys at 185 walk around at 215. (Rousimar) Palhares that guy is huge, (Chael) Sonnen, and a lot of guys,” Santiago stated.
“I think the best time is now. 31-years old, why not make this choice.”
The Brazilian born fighter says he walks around at approximately 190 to 195lbs in his downtime, so it only made sense for him to make the move to welterweight.
Following a great night at Titan Fighting where two of his friends from the Blackzilian team, Tom Niinimaki and Freddy Assuncao also got wins, Santiago is ready for the next challenge ahead.
Conquering the best fighters at 170lbs.
“I didn’t get hurt, the fight was literally like a minute and a half. I’m just looking for a good opportunity. I didn’t have any extra stress at this last fight, I wasn’t even close to being over trained. I feel very fresh. I’m going to keep doing the same thing and keep my weight down, and make some changes in my diet,” said Santiago.
“It’s going to feel so good. At least one time knowing that I’m stronger than the other guy inside (the cage).”