After recent reports of a potential return to the UFC, Sengoku middleweight champion Jorge Santiago (23-8 MMA, 1-2 UFC) appears to have an opponent: Brian Stann (10-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC).
Sources close to the organization today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) the two middleweight are expected to fight at UFC 130.
Stann initially was slated to Wanderlei Silva (33-10-1 MMA 3-5 UFC) at the May 28 event, though Silva repeatedly has voiced a preference not to fight the fan favorite and military hero.
Currently, bout agreements have not been signed. Additionally, Santiago's agent, Malki Kawa of Authentic Sports Management, said he couldn't confirm the fight or even if the veteran officially has signed with the UFC. Stann's rep also declined to comment.
ESPN.com initially reported Santiago's return to the UFC on Friday, though an opponent wasn't known at the time.
If the Santiago vs. Stann fight is signed, Silva likely will be shifted to another matchup, possibly against Vitor Belfort, whom he recently has been feuding via a series of interviews in the Brazilian media. Belfort recently lost a title fight with middleweight champion Anderson Silva at UFC 126.
U.S. fans likely best remember Santiago for a three-fight stint under the UFC banner in 2006. The Brazilian defeated Justin Levens but was then defeated by Chris Leben and Alan Belcher, which lead to his release.
Since that time, Santiago has racked up an impressive 11-1 record, which includes a 2007 single-night Strikeforce middleweight grand-prix championship via wins over Trevor Prangley and Sean Salmon. Santiago's current win streak also includes two memorable World Victory Road/Sengoku wins over Kazuo Misaki, as well as victories over MMA notables Siyar Bahadurzada, Logan Clark, Jeremy Horn, Mamed Khalidov, Kazuhiro Nakamura and Andrei Semenov, among others.
Stann, meanwhile, has won four of his past five fights, including a recent TKO victory over surging Leben. The former WEC light-heavyweight champ recently has stepped up his game under the tutelage of famed trainer Greg Jackson and his stable of fighters. His recent wins have come over the likes of light heavyweights Steve Cantwell and Rodney Wallace, and after a drop to middleweight, over Mike Massenzio. The lone defeat during his recent stretch came via decision to fast-rising Phil Davis.
UFC 130 takes place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The pay-per-view main card features a third meeting between UFC lightweight champ Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard.