clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Thiago Santos explains jump to PFL from UFC: ‘The purse is financially better for me’

UFC Fight Night: Santos v Hill Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Thiago Santos is ready to make the big bucks in his last run at a mixed martial arts (MMA) title.

The one-time Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight title challenger departed his long-time fighting home last month (Sept. 2022). In doing so, he immediately signed a deal with Professional Fighters League (PFL), where he’s now set to compete in the 2023 season.

The opportunity gives Santos a chance at $1 million by winning his four potential fights to the title. At this stage in his career, that was all he needed to make his decision, parting ways amicably with UFC.

“It was also the right moment, at this stage of my career, to try something different,” Santos told MMA Fighting. “I won’t be a hypocrite, of course, that I want the $1 million [prize]. Of course, I want money to make my nest egg. I don’t want to wait until it’s too late [in my career], like almost retiring, to fight one last fight and try a lot of money. No, I really want to fight. I know I still can do great things in MMA, I still have a few more years of fighting. The moment had to be now. New opportunities, better purse. Everything made me opt for the change. The purse is financially better for me than [what I had in the] UFC.”

Santos, 38, has struggled to find success since his crack at Jon Jones for UFC gold in July 2019. “Marreta” has gone 1-4 in his five outings that followed, most recently suffering defeat against Jamahal Hill via fourth round technical knockout in Aug. 2022 (watch highlights).

In PFL’s Light Heavyweight division, Santos could possibly end up crossing paths with multiple of his American Top Team (ATT) teammates. The 2022 season already featured an ATT clash Omari Akhmedov defeated Josh Silveira in the semifinals. For the Brazilian, he doesn’t see it being an issue if he’s put in the same situation.

“We’re all very mature, we’re friends and train together for a long time,” said Santos. “Josh just fought Omari, so, if it has to happen, it will. We’ll fight and friendship will continue the same.”

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania