Thiago Santos, a former UFC light heavyweight championship challenger, is out to make a statement under PFL.
In the past, notable former UFC fighters including Anthony Pettis, Jeremy Stephens, Rory MacDonald, and Olivier Aubin-Mercier have transitioned from the Octagon to the Professional Fighters League's SmartCage.
After leaving the MMA leader in 2022, a new wave will make their maiden forays into the distinct season and playoff format used in the PFL this year. That includes Thiago Santos in addition to Marlon Moraes, a past contender for the bantamweight belt, and Aspen Ladd.
During his time competing under the UFC's auspices, "Marreta" established a reputation as one of the division's top powerhouses at light heavyweight, most notably by submitting Jimi Manuwa and Jan Bachowicz to earn a chance to challenge Jon Jones for the title in 2019.
After falling short of the throne via split decision, the Brazilian struggled for form. Most recently, he suffered setbacks at the hands of Magomed Ankalaev and Jamahal Hill, leading to his exit from the organization.
But Santos' story is not yet complete in MMA. He's looking to reinvent himself in a new environment, having signed on to battle in the PFL light heavyweight season. His campaign will get underway on April 1, when he meets 2022 champion Rob Wilkinson.
A lot of attention has been paid to Santos and Moraes' efforts leading up to the promotion's season start since many believe that their results will reveal whether or not they can still compete at a high level.
The possibility to make his debut against last year's champion presents itself to "Marreta" as the ideal scenario.