Japanese MMA is in dire straights.
Japan's flagship promotion, Dream, is on the verge of fiscal collapse; Shoot fighting had a mutiny in which the trainers and fighters banded together to have the head of organized Shooto to step down, and Sengoku just lost their sitting Middleweight champion.
Jorge Santiago is a name that some UFC fans may remember; he had a three-fight stint in the UFC in 2006. Santiago went 1-2 in the UFC, his losses coming to Chris Leben and Alan Belcher. Santiago then left the UFC in favor of BodogFight promotion which was known for massively overpaying fighters.
Santiago got a win in his lone Bodog fight and he was then brought in to Strikeforce for their 2007 Middleweight tournament. Santiago won the tournament and then traveled to Japan and entered into the Sengoku and won their 2008 Middleweight Grand Prix.
Since leaving the UFC Santiago is 11-1 and is currently ranked as the #8 MMA Middleweight by Sherdog and #7 in the USA Today/SB Nation Consensus Rankings. Santiago also won the Sherdog 2010 Fight of the Year award for his five-round war with Kazuo Misaki.
Santiago has a pretty classic Brazilian MMA style, he has strong kickboxing to go with a black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, but a big part of Santiago's success since leaving the UFC is his moving to Florida and training with American Top Team.
Santiago entering in the UFC gives their Middleweight division a badly needed injection of talent; with Chael Sonnen out indefinitely due to felony charges the UFC is forced to use Yushin Okami, Nate Marquardt, Vitor Belfort and Demian Maia as their only real contenders. All the while they are looking desperately to add new names to that list and keeping their fingers crossed that Belcher can come back from his eye injury and step back into his role of emerging contender.
Santiago is a mostly finished product at 30 years old, but he is still in his physical prime and he is able to put on exciting and fresh fights in the UFC 185-pound division. Look for Santiago to get in the action quickly.
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