We have a very exciting preliminary co-main event coming to us this weekend, as former featherweight stud Grant Dawson moves up to 155 lbs for a bout opposite the incredibly dangerous Leonardo Santos.
Not too many people know who Leonardo Santos is, mostly because of the fact he’s generally very inactive. He has defied ring rust a number of times though, and he’s 7-0-1 inside the octagon.
Santos was active in his UFC tenure up until he fought Kevin Lee, who he finished via TKO in round one.
After that, which was in December of 2015, he wouldn’t fight again until October of 2016, where he defeated Adriano Martins, the only man to ever defeat Islam Makhachev, via split decision.
We wouldn’t see Santos again until June of 2019, where he KO’d Stevie Ray, before returning in July of 2020 to win a unanimous decision over Roman Bogatov, improving his professional record to 18-3-1. We haven’t seen him since, but luckily for us, less than one year later, on March 20, 2021, we see him face one of the true prodigies in the sport.
Grant Dawson, like Santos, has also been perfect thus far into his UFC run, going 4-0 over the likes of Julian Erosa (UD), Michael Trizano (rear naked choke), Darrick Minner (rear naked choke), and Nad Narimani (UD), improving his professional record to 16-1.
At first, Dawson debuted as a featherweight, where his second promotional bout was also contested. His last two however were 150 lb catchweights, so a move to lightweight seems fitting. Not to mention, the kid just turned 27 years old, he’s filling out a little more than he used to.
Dawson is very much like Gregor Gillespie or Colby Covington in the sense that he has very good wrestling, and his pace is absolutely unmatched. He just doesn’t get tired, and his skill is better than that of his first four octagon opponents.
However, Santos is a big step up in competition.
He may be 41 years old, but he hasn’t shown us any signs of slowing down. Santos wasn’t a spring chicken when he came to the UFC, he was already well into his 30’s, but his skill and timing haven’t left him, and it’s been beautiful to see.
Santos has some unexpected, but very dangerous kickboxing, and he has a 4th-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Here’s a rundown of his eight UFC bouts:
William Macario (arm-triangle choke), Norman Parke (draw), Efrain Escudero (UD), Anthony Rocco Martin (rear naked choke), Kevin Lee (TKO), Adriano Martins (SD), Stevie Ray (KO), and Roman Bogatov (UD).
Then we have his 3-1 TUF: Brazil II record, where he beat Thiago Santos at 170 lbs believe it or not. He lost his final bout to Santiago Ponzinibbio, but Ponzinibbio broke his hand in his final fight in the house. Therefore, the opportunity went to Santos, where he took the crown by defeating Macario.
This is going to be a great test to see where Dawson is at in his career. If he can beat Santos, we know he’s ready for the top 15 of the division.
Will Leonardo Santos be able to catch Grant Dawson with a strike or submission, or will this be a typical Dawson fight where we just see him out-pace and overwhelm his opponent? Tune in tomorrow and see!
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I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That’s the first fight I saw, and the fight that got me hooked on the sport. Since then, the sport has grown so rapidly, and my goal is to enlighten everyone on what’s going on in the sport today.