Sengoku Champ Jorge Santiago Returns to the UFC; Meets Gunnar Nelson in Feb.

Andrew Saunders@SaundersMMACorrespondent IIJanuary 23, 2013

Photo: mmaconvert
Photo: mmaconvert

One man's injury is another man's opportunity to step up. With Justin Edwards forced out of UFC on FUEL 7, Sengoku middleweight champion Jorge Santiago has been afforded the chance to pick up his first UFC win in nearly seven years.

UFC officials have announced (via that Santiago takes on Icelandic phenom Gunnar Nelson on the London card with little less than one month to prepare.

It is a weighty task for any fighter, as the undefeated Nelson is one of the top prospects in the sport. However, considering that Santiago is taking this fight on short notice and dropping to a new weight class for the first time, the cards are certainly stacked against him.

This is the third UFC stint for Santiago, who debuted with the organization in 2006 with a knockout win over Justin Levens. However, after losses to Chris Leben and Alan Belcher, he was released from the promotion. 

Although he won the 2007 Strikeforce Middleweight Grand Prix, Santiago achieved most of his career success while competing in Japan. Winning six of his seven contests since competing exclusively in Japan, Santiago earned a return ticket to the UFC in 2011 while still wearing the Sengoku middleweight championship.

"The Sandman" was released from the UFC for a second time after losing consecutive fights to Brian Stann and Demian Maia. Since that time, he put together a pair of first-round stoppages in the Titan FC organization.

Nelson currently holds a professional record of 10-0-1 and made a dominant UFC debut against DaMarques Johnson back in September. All but one of his victories came via first-round stoppages.