After winning 11 of 12 bouts over a three-year period, it took things going on outside the cage to derail Jorge Santagio and cause him to lose back-to-back bouts for the first time since 2006.
“I had a lot of stuff going on last year, a lot of change in my personal life and change in camps,” said Santiago. “It reflected my performance inside the ring. When you have a lot of things going well in your life, you have decent training and having a good group of guys, and then you have personal issues and don’t have it all together, it will affect you in your fights.
“Everything now is back behind (me), and I’m ready to start over; start off the year winning.”
Resisting the urge to make wholesale changes to the way he does things to get back on track, Santiago told MMAWeekly.com that he feels a tweak in strategy is what is really needed.
“We’re putting a lot of focus on finishing fights,” he said. “Being the first one to go in and punch, be the first one to try to submit (my opponent).
“I was having too much game plan, and like they say, when the first time you get hit, you forget the game plan. But now the game plan is to go out there and try to finish as fast as possible. It doesn’t matter what (my opponent is doing), just try to finish. That’s what I’m trying to focus on.”
Santiago will be able to test out his strategy on Friday night when he faces off against Leonardo Pecanha in the main event of Titan FC 21 in Kansas City and on HDNet in what looks to be a battle of conflicting styles.
“With his background, his strongest game is the ground, and that is what I expecting him to do (is take the fight to the ground),” said Santiago. “I’m going to try to avoid letting him do his game. Instead of him pushing the pace, I’m going to push the pace. I want to dictate where we have to fight, not him, because I know what he wants to do, go to the ground and make this a grappling match.
“I’m not looking to turn this into a grappling match. I want to make it exciting, I want to make the fans like it, and I want to finish the fight, with a TKO maybe.”
Santiago understands that if he’s going to get an opportunity to return to the biggest stages in MMA, he’s going to have to do more than just go in and scrape out a win.
“Winning is important, but I don’t like to go out just to win, just to get the W; it doesn’t make me look good,” said Santiago. “I want make the other shows call me to call back, so I want to make these exciting.
“Now I’m going by the way I used to fight. After that if the wins are coming, the other shows will call me to come back. Until that (happens), let’s see how it goes. For right now I want to fight good, fight explosive and finish the fight.”
Santiago concluded, “Everybody knows I’ve had some ups and downs. I went down a couple years ago, then went to the top. It’s a difficult transition right now, but I know things will come around and get back. It’s time for the exciting days to be back.”