Mike Santiago has faced an uphill climb in his first few appearances inside the UFC and while he hasn’t come out on top in his last two fights, he’s moved on from the past and focused squarely on the task at hand. That task comes in the form of Dan Ige, Santiago’s opponent at UFC 225 on June 9.
Putting the past behind him and focused squarely on facing Ige in his hometown of Chicago, Santiago understands the job that must be done.
“I’m going out there and fighting my fight. I know exactly what I have to do and what has to be done and I’m going to go out there and impose my will and get that win.”
Santiago understands that losses don’t keep a fighter inside the UFC and if he wants to stick around in the top promotion, he’ll have to get a win. It’s not about the highlight, it’s not about trash talking, for Santiago, it’s about showing that the UFC is where he belongs.
I’m just looking to show I really belong here with these guys at the top. I’m going to fight like everyone else knows, like I know I can. I’m going to show my bully tendencies and push the pace, hopefully he can handle it and if not, it’s going to be a rough night for him [Ige].
Showing he belongs not only keeps Santiago in the UFC, not only improves his record, but could even begin a path back to a former opponent of his. Following his win on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, Santiago took a fight on 7 days notice against Zabit Magomedsharipov, a rising star in the UFC’s featherweight division. Zabit has turned heads in his few fights inside the UFC and while he came up short against him, Santiago believes a win at 225 could start the road back for a rematch.
I’ve got some plans after I beat Ige, if it happens, I’d like to run it back against Zabit. I know it’ll be a much different outcome with a full camp, and I think he knows that too. A win over Ige may not directly lead to the rematch, but it could begin the path to get back to Zabit.
There were some headlines made by another fighter in the featherweight division, Yair Rodriguez, who was cut after turning down fights against Zabit Magomedsharipov as well as Ricardo Lamas, Santiago’s teammate. When asked about Rodriguez turning down fights which led to him being cut by the UFC, Santiago didn’t hold back.
I feel sorry for him, actually. He lost a job. That’s your job though, if you want to fight, then you have to fight. I’ve never backed down from a fight, and I’m sure Ric [Lamas] has never backed down from a fight. A fighter’s job is to fight.
A fighter’s job is exactly just that, to fight, and Mike Santiago knows his job now is to not only go out there and fight, but it’s to win. He’s had to block out the fact that he’ll be on the same card as his teammate and mentor, he’s had to block out the fact that he’s fighting for the UFC in his hometown, and all he’s focused on is getting a win that cements his place as a fighter inside the top organization.
Many fighters don’t realize when their back is against the wall, back that’s not the case for Santiago and come June 9, not only will he look to make the night he shines the brightest, but he’s looking at UFC 225 to be the launching pad for his UFC career.