Photo by Scott Petersen via MMA Weekly.
UFC middleweight and former Marine Brian Stann blasted Jorge Santiago with a series of punches in the second round to finish the Brazilian at 4:29 of the third round.
Stann improves to 3-0 in the UFC middleweight division. Beating the top ten ranked Santiago should propel him up the USA TODAY/SBNation Consensus MMA Rankings.
The two took the early part of the first round to feeling each other out. Stann took center cage and Santiago circled to his right, away from Stann's power. Santiago landed the first strikes but it was Stann who scored the first painful strike of the fight with a sharp leg kick. Santiago answered with a high kick that connected. Stann then landed another leg kick. Suddenly Stann dropped Santiago with a short sharp left hook that caught him on the button. Santiago fell and Stann followed him down where he scored with some hammerfists while Santiago fought desperately to control his arms and recover his wits. He managed to survive the round.
In the second, Santiago forced a clinch and landed a hard knee to Stanns mid-section. Stann then stumbled Santiago with an inside leg kick. Santiago answered with a right. Santiago landed a spinning back fist but Stann staggered him with the counter. Santiago tried a flying knee that ended with him slipping and falling. Santiago landed a couple more times. Then suddenly Stann landed the smashing series of blows that ended Santiago's night. The first shot was a looping right hook that Santiago ducked into -- it caught him on the back of the heat, a deeply disorienting blow. Referee Herb Dean might have been a tad slow to rescue Santiago.
This was Santiago's first UFC fight since 2006 when he was cut after going 1-2. In the meantime he went 11-1 outside the UFC and won titles in both Strikeforce and Japan's Sengoku promotion. For a much of that time he's been the only non-UFC fighter in the top 10 of the division.
Stann came into this bout off a TKO win over the popular Chris Leben and was 2-0 in the UFC middleweight division entering the fight.