– JORGE SANTIAGO WANTS IN STRIKEFORCE TOURNEY

by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com With Strikeforce continuing its efforts to put together a middleweight tournament at some point in 2010, one strong contender hopes to throw his name in the mix, Sengoku middleweight champion Jorge Santiago.

Santiago, who is coming off a win in a fight of the year candidate against Kazuo Misaki in August, has always had a desire to return to fight in the United States. The Strikeforce middleweight tournament would afford him the perfect chance.

While his obligations in Japan keep him busy, Santiago’s manager, Alex Davis, tells MMAWeekly.com that he’s always felt he had unfinished business in the States.

“Obviously being Sengoku champion he has to keep on fighting in Japan. He’s already carved that niche for himself; he’s a hero there. Of course, he wants to come fight in the States. He fought in the UFC, didn’t go as good as he would have liked it to go. Now, he’s really cleaned up his game, he’s really improved,” Davis told MMAWeekly Radio.

The last time Strikeforce held a middleweight tournament was in November 2007, and Santiago was a part of that night as well. The American Top Team fighter destroyed Sean Salmon and Trevor Prangley on his way to winning the tournament, but afterwards went on to fight in Japan instead.

Now well established as a Top 10 185-pounder, Santiago believes he has a place in the Strikeforce middleweight tournament.

“They haven’t made a decision on their 185-pound tournament, when it’s going to be, or if it’s a four-man tournament, but I’m always calling saying ‘what about Jorge Santiago?’ I think if they do a 185-pound tournament, that’s one that has to be in there,” Davis commented.

The sour taste left in Santiago’s mouth from another experience fighting in America came from his time in the UFC. Not that he had a problem with the promotion, only that he didn’t live up to his potential in his fights.

Santiago went 1-2 during his brief stint in the Octagon, picking up a win over Justin Levens before losing to both Chris Leben and Alan Belcher, which triggered his exit from the UFC. He’d love another shot there as well, but with his Sengoku contract in place, he’ll have to wait for any kind of revenge in the Octagon.

“The only reason he’s not back in the UFC is because he’s got his contract in Japan, which is a good contract, pays him very well, and he’s the champion there,” Davis commented. “In that situation Strikeforce is a little bit more flexible.”

Regardless of the timing or the placement of the tournament, Santiago’s manager believes that he’s established himself as one of the best middleweights in the world, and if Strikeforce is choosing the four best participants, the Brazilian deserves to be one of them.

“I’m always mentioning his name, and I’m sure that when they do the tournament, he’ll end up in there,” Davis said in closing.