Santella recently picked up his fourth straight victory, and twelfth overall, this past February when he defeated Cung Le student Anthony Figueroa via unanimous decision at CFFC 19.
“I wanted to keep it standing to show that I had been working on my weaknesses, because I could have taken him down at any time,” said Santella. “I was able to mainly stand with him, beat him up and take him down. I almost finished him and for sure I won every single round, all five rounds.”
Prior to moving down to flyweight, Santella was hardly cutting weight at all to make the 135-pound bantamweight limit and ended up coming in much smaller than his opponents in fights.
While he feels he’s much the same fighter now at flyweight, he’s no longer at a physical disadvantage and that makes a huge difference in how he performs now.
“I feel like I fight the same; I’m still a scrappy, scramble-y fighter at 125 as I was at 135,” Santella said. “I’m still coming forward and coming at you.
“My scrambles are definitely a big strong point of my game and I’m always looking to finish a fight, especially when it goes to the ground. I just feel like now as the rounds get later on, I’m not getting overpowered.”
Santella will return to the CFFC on Saturday night at the Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., to defend his flyweight title against up and comer Dave Morgan.
“Dave Morgan is a strong wrestler, being a Division III National Champion, and is a short, stalky kid who looks to take you down and kind of grind on you,” said Santella. “I don’t think I have to worry about him submitting me. The worst that can happen is he takes me down, which is where I’m very comfortable.
“He has been submitted before, and nobody’s been able to take me down and hold me down, especially for five rounds. He doesn’t look comfortable on his feet. So I’ll just go out there and wherever the fight goes, I can dominate and finish him.”
Following his bout with Morgan, Santella told MMAWeekly.com that he intends to take some time off and work on his game before returning to finish out the year stronger than ever.
“To be honest with you, after this fight I want to kind of relax this summer, work on my skillset and up the bar,” he said. “I’ve been pretty much every summer for the last four years, so it would be nice to kind of chill out and relax.
“I’m not going to get away from training, no matter wherever I go. I’ve got a couple things in mind as far as what I want to do and maybe get back in there towards the end of the year, maybe late fall, but that’s about it.”
(Photo courtesy of AMA Fight Club)