Ring rust did not affect the former Ultimate Fighter Brazil 2 welterweight winner Leonardo Santos much.
After two and a half years away from the Octagon due to injuries, the 39-year-old finally got back to the cage at UFC Stockholm against Stevie Ray, and things could not have turned out better for the Brazilian. Santos scored a one-punch knockout win halfway through the first round.
In an interview with Combate, Santos explained the heightened emotional state he enters during his fights, which was why he felt the need to run out of the Octagon immediately after the bout was waved off.
“I get emotional when I get into the Octagon, I become so happy. This is my life. I don’t go out at night, I don’t drink, I just train, train, train. I couldn’t fight for three years. When my right hand connected, I only thought I had to run off and thank God. That’s why I bolted out of there. It wasn’t planned. Now I want to stay here (in Stockholm) for three or two more days. This is my first time here and I can’t go home now. I want to stick around a little longer get to know this beautiful city better. I also want to eat well while I’m here, too.”
Although he is undefeated in the UFC, and has been fighting at lightweight since his second UFC appearance, Santos revealed that he struggles to make the limit of 155 lbs. And after so much time away, he forgot about how much of a challenge that part of the sport could be.
“It was very difficult for me. I thought of quitting and retiring many times. But I love train and I love the UFC. I can’t give up now. I still have the energy to fight more. It was hard to make weight, because I didn’t fight in almost three years and had already forgotten all the suffering that involves cutting weight. I love to fight, but cutting weight is hard for me, because I’m so tall for lightweight. But I’m very professional. If I signed the contract to fight at lightweight, I’ll die, but I’ll make weight.”
Before his knockout win over Ray, Leonardo Santos (17-3-1) was on a four-fight winning streak, with victories over Adriano Martins, Kevin Lee, Anthony Rocco Martin and Efrain Escudero. Hopefully for him, he won’t have to wait as long to get his next chance for victory in the Octagon.