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One FC’s Luis Santos reveals story behind his TUF: Brazil 2 fight

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Leonardo Santos won the second season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil in 2013, but things could have done a different direction it if wasn’t for a controversial fight that few people know about.

One of the best and most experienced welterweights in the Brazilian MMA circuit, Luis Santos earned a shot at the reality show among 28 fighters. He was set to face Team Nogueira’s Paulo Goncalves Dias in the preliminary bout, and scored a devastating first-round knockout. However, his win never aired on Globo.

The UFC never made an official announcement on why Santos was removed from the reality show, but sources close to the situation told members of the media in 2013 that Santos was removed from the reality show because he was still signed with Bellator.

Santos, who went 2-2 at Bellator, was removed from the show despite his impressive win and never got another chance in the UFC. A couple years later, Santos gives his side of the story.

"That’s not the true story. Bellator didn’t have anything to do with it," Santos told MMAFighting.com. "The UFC was the one who damaged me. I was a free agent but they didn’t respect me, cutting me from the reality show. I did my best at TUF: Brazil with my knockout victory in the preliminary fight, and I don’t know why the UFC cut me. They never gave me an explanation, but that’s in the past."

"Sapo", an American Top Team talent with a 60-9-1 MMA record, signed a contract with Asia’s One FC after racking up six straight finishes since his controversy TUF bout, and wonders what would have happened if he never got kicked out of the UFC show.

"It’s hard to say where I would be today because I have total confidence that I would have won that tournament," Santos said. "I beat the second most experienced fighter in the show in my first fight."

The Brazilian 170-pounder makes his One FC debut against Bakhtiyar Abbasov (12-3) at Friday’s One FC 22 in Singapore, and a win over the Bulgarian fighter could earn him a shot at the welterweight gold against Ben Askren.

"I want to write my history at One FC," Santos said. "I’m working hard to get there, win and fight for the title in 2015. I don’t think about using One FC to get to another promotion. I want to do my best there, give the fans some great fights, and build a career in Asia."

"Fighting for the One FC title is my goal, but I have to think fight by fight," he continued. "I’m focused on this fight now, and if I win and One FC thinks I should fight for the title right away, I will be more than ready to do it. But if they think I should face another opponent first, I will fight whoever they want to earn my title shot."

Abbasov makes his return to the cage after tapping to Askren in his promotional debut in May, and "Sapo" isn’t impressed by his resume.

"The only tough fighter he’s faced, he lost. I believe I’m going to be a big threat to Abbasov," Santos said. "I only fight on my opponents’ mistakes to get the win, and I’m going to do that against him."