Affliction: Trilogy will have one of the more interesting middleweight fights in some time, pitting two Brazilian fighters who really need a win over a big name to become a top five contender in the division. Vitor Belfort and Jorge Santiago have both been on a stellar run as of late and both are looking to show off their skills against each other.
It’s a matchup of men who are both well rounded with each have an advantage in their focal areas; Belfort being a better striker and Santiago being the better grappler.
Jorge Santiago is in the middle of one of the most successful runs in MMA and really in the history of MMA. Since April of 2007 Santiago has had a nine fight winning, earning him a title with Sengoku.
In those nine fights not one has gone to a decision, and only in the last fight against Kazuo Misaki did he even looked to be in any real trouble. Originally from Rio de Janeiro, he now trains out of Florida with the famed American Top Team with such fighters as Thiago Silva, Thiago Alves, Matt Brown, Jeff Monson and others.
With a win at Affliction: Trilogy over Vitor Belfort, he could easily elevate his stock to a contender in any organization in particular with Strikeforce who he has fought with and won a four man middleweight tourney and the UFC who he has also fought with and although it did go so well, he has openly stated, would love to return.
In an interview with Tatame.com last month Santiago stated, “I would return very happy! I just didn’t go back yet because I have fights to do in my contract and I still have much to do here in Japan. But, with a good proposal, why not?”
Vitor Belfort is a very recognized name, and with good reason. He was the tourney winner at UFC 12, a former light heavyweight champion back in 2004 and a former title holder for Cage Rage. “The Phenom” has had an up and down career but looks to be coming back to top form.
Most recently he has back to back KO’s of Terry Martin and Matt Lindland, who was at the time considered the number two middleweight in the world. He has top level punching skills and the KO power to take anyone out.
Currently Belfort is training with Xtreme Couture in Vegas and his standup is becoming somehow better than before under Shane Tompkins tutelage. Belfort seems to be ready for the upcoming fight with Santiago, but isn’t too thrilled to be fighting a Brazilian.
When asked about this being only his second fight in his career against a fellow countryman in an interview with Tatame.com Belfort responded by saying, “I’m happy, because it shows that Brazil is the biggest fighter exporter, but, on the other hand, I’m sad, but its ok, we’re professional. He’s a top athlete, from a good team”.
As I stated before this matchup will go a long way in the middleweight standings. Santiago who still has a few fights left in his contract with Sengoku, could be looking to come stateside soon and with a solid win over Belfort would be in the negotiating driver’s seat with any organization.
Likewise with Belfort, a win could bring him closer to a return back to the Octagon. Regardless I’m excited to see this matchup and the after effects of it.