Former Sengoku 185-pound champion Jorge Santiago (23-8) will make his long-awaited return to the Octagon when he takes on Brian Stann (10-3) at UFC 130: "Rampage vs. Hamill" at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 28 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
And despite winning 11 of his last 12 contests (including 10 finishes), his first stateside run left a lot to be desired.
That might explain why the American Top Team middleweight is a +100 underdog on two out of the three betting lines against Stann, who's sitting pretty as the -120 favorite.
But as Santiago explains to the Las Vegas Sun, he was "just a kid" trying to go places:
"I was just a kid. I was just trying to go places and fight. I wasn’t thinking about being prepared the way I am now. I live my life around good people and professionals with everything I do now. That’s the difference between before and now. I had it in my mind that I had to fight in Japan because I was big fan of PRIDE back in the day. I went there, had the experience and loved it. But now that I’ve tried both, I know what I want. I had to go back. I knew I had to come back and finish what I started here in the UFC. It’s the right time. I want to accomplish something big here and finish my career."
Santiago wasted little time rebounding as he won nine in a row after departing for "The Land of the Rising Sun" with two defenses of his Sengoku middleweight championship, which he recently vacated to make his way to the greener pastures of the UFC.
They're throwing him straight into the line of fire against "The All American" but as they say -- the Octagon is the ultimate proving ground. Time for the Brazilian to step up to the plate and prove he belongs.
Stann punched his ticket to the middleweight elite by knocking out the previously unstoppable Chris Leben at UFC 125 back on Jan. 1. Is he a bad match-up for Santiago to draw in his first fight back in the big show?