Antun Racic is the defending KSW bantamweight king, and young Brazilian prospect Bruno Santos was shocked to hear he would be challenging for that belt in his first promotional appearance at Saturday’s KSW 57 in Lodz, Poland.
Santos was approached by the company to ink a deal with the European giant and face their 135-pound champion right after a decision victory in Sao Paulo, which boosted his MMA record to 9-1.
“This opportunity was impossible to let pass by,” Santos said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “It really caught me by surprise, it was out of nowhere. My master texted me saying that my manager contacted KSW and two days later we had the fight done. I said ‘wow’ and immediately jumped at it. I won’t have to go over a line [laughs].”
“Gafanhoto,” a nickname that means grasshopper in Portuguese, is a 22-year-old kid embracing the “chance of a lifetime” in Poland, and it all feels natural for him. An MMA prospect that hopes to finally graduate in nutrition in mid-2021, Santos felt destined to become an athlete since his teenage days.
The Sao Paulo native began training martial arts at eight, and decided that fighting would be his career after pocketing 40 dollars for his first MMA purse eight years later.
“I’ve always imagined myself on the biggest stages of the world since I started fighting, so I feel ready for this,” said Santos, who went 7-0 in amateur bouts before turning pro in 2017. “My life’s goal is to beat this tough and respected opponent and win this belt. I know I have what it takes to go there and win. That will be great for me and for my family. It will change the course of my career.”
Racic is more experienced as a professional MMA fighter with a record of 24 wins in 33 bouts. Croatia’s “Killer” is unbeaten in five appearances under the KSW banner, and Gafanhoto admits he had no idea who he was when initially offered the shot.
Santos sat down with his team for three hours to discuss the matchup and break down his opponent, enough time to know the path for victory.
“My game is about pressure and so is his,” Santos said. “He likes to move forward the entire time and get the takedown to use his ground-and-pound, and my game is exactly the same. I will go there and be first. There’s no other way. My hand will land first and I’ll begin to work. I won’t wait for him. I want to impose my pressure on the feet and on the ground. I will definitely take him down and impose my heavy ground-and-pound, and I will finish him there.”