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Former title challenger Thiago Santos parts ways with UFC, enters PFL light heavyweight tournament

UFC is out, PFL is in.

Former light heavyweight title challenger Thiago Santos has fought his last fight inside the Octagon, at least for the foreseeable future, and will resume his MMA career inside the “Smart Cage” as part of the PFL 2023 light heavyweight tournament.

“We are very excited to bring in Thiago Santos to the PFL light heavyweight division,” PFL President Sefo told ESPN. “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 (22-11) is coming off back-to-back losses and has now dropped five of his last six, dating back to his split decision defeat to Jon Jones at UFC 239 back in summer 2019. The 38 year-old “Marreta” holds 15 knockouts in 22 professional wins.

“It was an amicable separation with the UFC,” Santos’ manager Alex Davis told ESPN. “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.”

Santos will be 39 by the time he starts PFL’s light heavyweight tournament and his quest to win the $1 million prize comes with additional pressure. To date, most of the high-profile UFC signings, which include Anthony Pettis and Rory MacDonald, have been a bust.

Time will tell.

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