Former UFC light heavyweight title challenger, Thiago Santos, has parted ways with the world’s largest MMA promotion after nine years on the roster to sign with the Professional Fighters League (PFL). It is expected that Santos will make his promotional debut as part of the light heavyweight lineup for the 2023 season.
In an interview with ESPN, PFL president Ray Sefo stated, “We are very excited to bring in Thiago Santos to the PFL light heavyweight division. He is known throughout the MMA world as a guy who delivers exciting fights, and I’m looking forward to seeing his elite knockout power up close.”
Santos first blipped on the UFC radar on The Ultimate Fighter Brazil Season 2, as a welterweight no less, way back in 2013. Since officially signing with the promotion, ‘Marreta’ made waves as a middleweight, building a name as a bonafide knockout artist who could unleash killer Capoeira kicks.
Up at 205-pounds, he fought through the likes of Jimi Manuwa and Jan Blachowicz to secure a championship shot against Jon Jones (a fight many fans still argue he actually should have won). Following double knee surgery after that Jones match, Santos posted up an unfavorable run of 1-4. He dropped his last bout back in August to Jamahal Hill, who pulled out a fourth round TKO on the veteran.
Perhaps a new promotion is just what a 38-year-old Santos needs to get back to his winning ways, and a million dollar prize sure is one heck of a motivator. The Brazilian’s manager Alex Davis also spoke to ESPN, describing a mutual exit and a desire to win that PFL jackpot: “It was an amicable separation with the UFC. Thiago is very grateful for everything the UFC did for him, and he’s very grateful toward the PFL for signing with him. He’s looking forward to winning a million dollars.”