After nine years in the world’s best MMA organization, former UFC light heavyweight title contender Thiago Santos has left the organization to join the Professional Fighters League (PFL). Santos is anticipated to make his promotion debut as a member of the 2023 light heavyweight division.
Santos is the second UFC fighter to recently switches to the PFL. Shane Burgos, a featherweight contender, moved to PFL in August after his contract with the UFC ran out, which, in Dana White's opinion, was a mistake.
Speaking to ESPN, Santos’s Manager Alex Davis explained that,
“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.”
The story was confirmed by PFL officials on Thursday after an earlier ESPN report. 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 originally caught the attention of the UFC on The Ultimate Fighter Brazil Season 2 in 2013, and that was as a welterweight. As a welterweight, he earned several remarkable victories, including knockouts of Gerald Meerschaert, Jack Hermansson, and Anthony Smith." Marreta" attracted attention as a middleweight, creating a reputation as a legit knockout specialist with the ability to throw devastating Capoeira kicks.
Since switching to 205 pounds, he had achieved even better results, won three straight matches, and ended them by knocking out former UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz. Santos had a break at the title after that triumph, but at UFC 239, he was defeated by Jon Jones by a hard split decision although many fans still argue he actually should have won.
Santos, unfortunately, incurred an injury to both of his knees during that bout, and he was sidelined for more than a year before making his comeback to the ring. Since making a return, he has lost four of his last five fights, including back-to-back defeats to Jamahal Hill and Magomed Ankalaev in his most recent bouts.
A fresh promotion might be exactly what 38-year-old Santos needs to revive his fine form, and a $1 million prize is a powerful motivation. In November, Rob Wilkinson and Omari Akhmedov will square off in the light heavyweight finals of the ongoing PFL season, which features another veteran UFC duo.