Photo by Taro Rei for MMA Weekly.
The MMA world has been rife with speculation that Sengoku champ Jorge Santiago will be signing with the UFC or Strikeforce imminently ever since he was released by Sengoku-parent company World Victory Road earlier this week.
Santiago is a one-time Strikeforce tournament champ. He's also a UFC veteran who went 1-2 with MMA's big brother org in 2006. Santiago is ranked as the #7 ranked middleweight in the world by the USAT/SBN Consensus MMA Rankings.
ESPN reported earlier today that Santiago had make a decision:
Jorge Santiago has found his way back to the UFC.
Sources have confirmed to ESPN.com that the American Top Team fighter has signed a multi-fight deal with the UFC and is expected to make his return to the promotion at UFC 130 on May 28 in Las Vegas. His opponent has not yet been determined.
But MMA Weekly indicates that no decisions have been made:
Malki Kawa of Authentic Sports Management, who represents Santiago, told MMAWeekly.com on Friday that they have fielded offers, but no deal has been signed at this time.
While details about the deal couldn't be disclosed, Santiago is expected to land with either the UFC or Strikeforce once the final pen hits paper.
My completely uninformed guess is that ESPN is reporting based on the UFC giving Santiago an offer and assuming he'll sign it. My bet is that Weekly is correct although there's always the chance that the UFC will rescind their offer when they learn that Kawa is weighing offers from Strikeforce.
Here's looking forward to seeing Santiago against top-flight stateside competition soon.
I don't have any illusions that Santiago is the man to beat Anderson Silva but I would enjoy seeing him rematched against such UFC mid-tier 185lb mainstays as Chris Leben or Alan Belcher or some new matches against the likes of Brian Stann, Yoshihiro Akiyama, or Demian Maia.
UPDATE: Sherdog reports it's a done deal, signed, sealed, delivered:
Santiago has signed a new contract with the promotion and is expected to make his return at UFC 130 on May 28 against a to-be-named opponent.
ESPN first reported Santiago's signing on Friday, and Sherdog.com confirmed Santiago's new deal with a source close to the negotiations. Details of the Brazilian's contract are not known at this time.