Leonardo Santos won the second season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) in Brazil, and now he wants revenge.
The Nova Uniao fighter will drop to the lightweight division after his third-round submission victory over welterweight William Macario at TUF: Brazil 2 finale on June 8 in Fortaleza, Brazil, and he's eyeing a rematch with former Pride lightweight champion Takanori Gomi.
Santos, one of the best lightweight fighters in the history of jiu-jitsu, made his MMA debut in 2002 when he accepted to take on Gomi on short notice. Gomi, who was the current Shooto world welterweight champion at that time, won the bout via majority decision.
"I’m not one of those guys that talks trash and calls out fighters in the media," Santos told the fans during a Q&A in Rio de Janeiro last Saturday. "I’m an employee in the UFC and I will fight whoever they tell me to, but I like the idea of making my UFC debut against Gomi. It was really hard to make my MMA debut in Japan and it would be interesting to see this fight in Brazil. I would grow a lot with the fans supporting me to get another win in my debut."
Santos returned to jiu-jitsu competition right after hiss loss to Gomi, winning three more world titles and submitting Georges St-Pierre with a flying armbar at ADCC 2005. The Nova Uniao product only returned to MMA in 2006, and has won 12 of his 14 bouts since, with nine stoppages.
Santos made into the TUF: Brazil 2 house with a win over Luciano Contini. During the show, he defeated Juliano Wandalen and Thiago Santos via decision, but lost to Santiago Ponzinibbio in the semifinal. However, Ponzinibio broke his hand and was forced out of the final. At UFC on Fuel TV 10, Santos replaced Ponzinibbio and won the title with his submission win over Macario.
"Since we got to the TUF house until the finale, I had six months of full training and stress," he said. "After that I recovered my injuries and helped my training partners. Now I’m back to the hard training to debut in the first semester of 2014 in the lightweight division. I’ll start my camp in Canada and will finish it here at Nova Uniao. I want to show that I won’t stop after TUF and I can also win in the UFC."
"The Fireball Kid" hasn’t fought since his split decision loss to Diego Sanchez last March in Japan. The loss snapped Gomi’s two-fight win streak, with victories over Mac Danzig and Eiji Mitsuoka, and dropped his UFC record do 3-4.