Sengoku Middleweight Champion Jorge Santiago Signs With the UFC

Phil LanidesContributor IFebruary 22, 2011

Santiago re-enters the UFC having gone 11-1 in the last four years.
Santiago re-enters the UFC having gone 11-1 in the last four years.

Jorge Santiago (23-8, 9 KO/TKO’s, 12 submissions), who was recently granted a release from his contract with Japan-based MMA promotion Sengoku, has signed a multi-fight agreement to return to the UFC. Details on his first fight back with the promotion are expected to be released shortly.

The Florida-based Santiago has gone 11-1 in Strikeforce, Sengoku and a couple other smaller promotions since his exodus from the UFC in 2006. The American Top Team member has built an 11-1 record over that time. A strong finisher, he has knocked out or submitted 21 of his 23 opponents. As a result, the Brazilian stalwart has carved out a reputation as one of the most electrifying fighters in the world. Now, Santiago, who is ranked in the top 10 in his weight class by, and USA Today/SB Nation, is ready to face new challenges and bring his brand of excitement back to the U.S. fans.

“I had a great experience in Japan, but I am now really excited to fight again in the UFC and conquer more fighters in the U.S.,” Santiago said in a press release.

A member of the Authentic Sports Management team that also includes “Suga” Rashad Evans, Jon “Bones” Jones, Kenny Florian, Ben Henderson, Carlos Condit, Matthew Riddle and Alan Belcher, among others, Santiago built a reputation as one of the hottest Brazilian fighting stars in Japan. During his time with Sengoku, he cultivated a 7-1 record, and conquered fighters such as Yuki Sasaki, Siyar Bahadurzada, Kazuhiro Nakamura, Kazuo Misaki (twice) and Mamed Khalidov, the only fighter to beat Santiago during his time in Japan.

A native of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, the 30 year old Santiago began his professional career in 2002. While running his record to 11-5, he faced UFC/WEC/Strikeforce veterans such as Manny Gamburyan, Derrick Noble, Keith Wisniewski, Diego Sanchez, Chris Liguori, Jordan Radev and Joey Villasenor. This success earned Santiago a trip to the UFC, where he went 1-2 in battles with Justin Levens, Chris Leben and Alan Belcher. After a couple fights outside the organization, Santiago entered the one-night Strikeforce middleweight tournament, besting Sean Salmon and Trevor Prangley en route to winning the entire tournament. From there, he went overseas and entered Sengoku, where he became a fan favorite star, while also becoming Sengoku’s first Middleweight Grand Prix Champion and 183-pound champion.

Special thanks to World Victory Road for the use of their photo