Thiago Santos exits the UFC and signs with PFL

Daniel Cunningham
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 06: Thiago Santos of Brazil looks on prior to a UFC Light Heavyweight Title bout against Jon Jones at T-Mobile Arena on July 06, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

A former UFC title challenger has found a new home with the PFL. Today, ESPN broke the news that former title challenger Thiago Santos (22-11) has signed an exclusive deal with the PFL. Santos will make his debut with the promotion in 2023.

It’s worth noting that Santos still had fights left on his current UFC deal. The UFC and Santos agreed to mutually part ways to allow him to pursue other opportunities. After that decision was made, talks between Santos and the PFL started to heat up.

We’ve seen the PFL sign guys like Anthony Pettis, Omari Akhmedov, Fabricio Werdum, and Jeremy Stephens off their runs in the UFC. The promotion also recently signed Shane Burgos to compete in their featherweight division in 2023. Now, they’ve made a move to bolster their light heavyweight division.

Thiago Santos to PFL

PFL President Ray Sefo told ESPN today, “We are very excited to bring in Thiago Santos to the PFL light heavyweight division. 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 just fought about a month ago in a headliner against Jamahal Hill. It was a fight that Santos was performing well in up until he started brawling with the young contender and he was stopped in the fourth round. The stoppage loss dropped Santos to 1-5 in his last six fights.

Santos rose up the ranks in the UFC’s light heavyweight division after a decent stint at 185. He even scored a knockout win over Jan Blachowicz that earned him a shot against Jon Jones. Despite tearing his knee in the first round, Santos put on a good performance and lost a split decision.

He hasn’t been the same guy since that knee injury. However, PFL is banking on him bringing back some of that old magic and fire. Either way, it’s a very good signing for the promotion.