Santiago Signs with UFC; Likely Returns May 28

By Mike Whitman Feb 11, 2011
Jorge Santiago is expected to return to the Octagon at UFC 130. | Taro Irei/

Sengoku Raiden Championships middleweight titleholder Jorge Santiago will return to the UFC in 2011.

Santiago has signed a new contract with the promotion and is expected to make his return at UFC 130 on May 28 against a to-be-named opponent.

ESPN first reported Santiago's signing on Friday, and confirmed Santiago's new deal with a source close to the negotiations. Details of the Brazilian’s contract are not known at this time.

A product of the vaunted American Top Team in Florida, Santiago began his professional career in 2002. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt made his UFC debut at Fight Night 5 in 2006, knocking out Justin Levens just over two minutes into their bout. Back-to-back defeats would follow for Santiago, however, and the 30-year-old was bounced from the promotion after suffering knockouts to Chris Leben and Alan Belcher, respectively.

Santiago rebounded in 2007, winning Strikeforce's four-man, single-night middleweight grand prix, knocking out Sean Salmon and Trevor Prangley in under three minutes combined.

The well-rounded middleweight then tried his luck abroad, signing with Japan's SRC and running off five straight victories. Three of those wins occurred in the promotion's middleweight grand prix, culminating with Santiago's victory over Kazuo Misaki in 2009 to earn him the championship belt.

Santiago recently negotiated his release from the Japanese promotion, stating his desire to fight once again for a major American promotion. The fighter will now vacate the SRC middleweight title.

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