For Jorge Santiago, it’s the second time around in the UFC when he makes his return to the organization for the first time in five years at UFC 130: Rampage vs. Hamill. He will square off against Brian Stann in Las Vegas.
The former American Top Team fighter spent time away from the UFC to hone his craft in different places and with different faces. In doing so, he’s set himself up to compete with a new and restructured UFC; one that he views as different from the UFC he knew during his first tenure.
All along, however, Santiago knew he’d be back in the UFC. No matter how far the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt traveled, and no matter what drew his focus away since his departure from the Zuffa-owned company, Jorge Santiago always knew he’d be back.
Now, with a new team in Florida that includes Rashad Evans as a training partner, Santiago has returned to take care of some unfinished business.
“I left (the) UFC in 2006,” Santiago told MMAWeekly Radio Weekend Edition. “I went to Japan, (got) more experience fighting different guys. I always knew, one day, (I would get) back to the UFC and finish the job I was doing there.”
For those who don’t know who Jorge Santiago is, do a quick Google search and you’ll find out that the guy is the textbook definition of a veteran. Not only has he fought in the UFC, but stints in Strikeforce, King of the Cage and the now-defunct Bodog Fight are written on Santiago’s resume as promotions he has fought for previously.
Most recently, Santiago fought for Sengoku and successfully defended the promotion’s middleweight title with a victory over Kazuo Misaki. During his time with Sengoku, Santiago amassed a 7-1 record, spanning over two years. His only loss came against Mamid Khalidov, whom he defeated in a rematch just five months later.
Wins for Santiago have come in all types; a mix of finishes. Defining his style is difficult, even if coming straight from the horse’s mouth. He’ll try to explain it, but it all just comes down to one thing: being a versatile fighter.
“It’s kind of hard to explain my style,” he said. “I’m a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, but the past few years, I learned a lot of kickboxing and different kinds of martial arts. So, it’s kind of (difficult) to say how (my fight is going to be) and how I’m going to finish my fight. If you see my record, you’re going to see knockouts and submissions and TKOs. I consider myself a mixed martial artist. I fight everywhere.
“I just try to take the chance and finish the fight. That’s what I like.”
When thinking about his fight with Brian Stann, Santiago likes his chances. He considers himself a fighter that enjoys a good tradeoff of strikes, and with Stann, he’s confident that he’ll get the opportunity to do just that.
He holds a certain amount of respect for the damage the former WEC light heavyweight champion can inflict with a single strike, but feels this fits his style as well as the right piece to a puzzle.
“I think he has a lot of power,” Santiago said about Stann, his UFC 130 opponent. “My game matches very well when I fight with guys who like to come and bang.”
With standing and banging on the mind, Santiago proclaims he will surely look for the finish come May 28 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“One thing I know for sure, this fight is not going to end (in) decision. This fight is going to end in about the second round or first round. That is (the truth). If not, my fans need to know, I always fight to finish the fight. No matter how and when, even the fifth round; the second, like, my last fight. And Brian Stann likes the same thing, so, that’ll be fun. You cannot blink.”