Image via Sherdog
Tatame spoke with former Sengoku middleweight champion Jorge Santiago today about his UFC 130 fight with Brian Stann, and he was very complimentary towards his opponent. Santiago, who is looking to make a quick splash in his return to the UFC after a 1-2 stint way back in 2006, apparently knows where his biggest advantage lies. The ground game:
"The ground game is clearly where I’m better than him, but I believe that along the way you have to do a bit of everything. I can still mix it all up and win, but I’ve only seen him striking, hitting his opponents really hard. I guess my best game to be played is to combine all techniques and see what happens. Opportunities come and go, one way or another."
Santiago has gone 11-1 since his release from the UFC, and has avenged his lone loss (to Mamed Khalidov). He's also been involved in two absolute wars with Japanese veteran Kazuo Misaki, both of which were fight of the year candidates. His opponent Stann is 2-0 since he dropped to middleweight, but Santiago believes the "All American" can't match up in terms of versatility:
"He’s a tough athlete, he has that military mind, you know, he’s really hard. He’s a good striker. He didn’t prove the world he can fight in any situations. His bouts usually finish fast, always on the stand-up game, so I believe I’ll bring him a new fighting style, because I can fight in any situation. He’ll have to prove himself better than me in all aspects", said, aware of the difficulties that will come across his way in UFC. "Any bout in there is hard stuff, there’s no easy one".
Will Santiago's ground game be the difference? Jorge's first UFC stint was highlighted by very strong starts but when he couldn't finish early, he faltered. Five years and ten more impressive finishes have helped to eliminate that stigma to a degree, but Stann is very tough to finish and looked very strong in his last fight against Chris Leben (a man who defeated Santiago during his original UFC run). Overall, this looks like an excellent matchup any way you look at it.