Learning to Sprawl
Career record: 66-59
Season: 0-0 (#-)
So i found an interview, where Jorge Santiago talks about his fight with Kazuo Misaki at Sengoku 14 this past saturday, what many people call FOTY.
Back and forth 25 min fight, well 24 mins and 30 seconds to be exact.
Jorge Santiago on FOTY Candidacy: “I'm not just going to give the fight away for free”
SD: Well, to start off -- I don't know what to say. Whenever you step into this ring to fight for or defend this belt, you have this riveting life and death struggle. Why is that?
JS: I dunno' man. I think my reaction is this: I really worked my ass off to get this belt, you know? I don't see myself giving up easily. No way, not for no reason. I expected to fight Misaki like this because he's the best Japanese fighter out there in my weight class. I knew we were going to put on a show like that. If someone wanted to get a belt and had to go through all the things that I had to, I don't think that anyone would. Even Misaki, he was waiting for me in order to fight for that belt [in Sengoku no Ran]. I had to fight a tournament just to fight [Misaki]. It cost me so much to get it, I'm not just going to give it away for free. If someone wants this belt, they have to put me to sleep. I almost fell asleep in the guillotine, but you know what? F--k that. I'll never tap. I've always wanted to fight here in Japan, and now that I'm here, I feel like I have to give the fans the best Jorge Santiago ever.
SD: Speaking of never tapping and never giving up, there were many very close moments in the fight. You rocked him, he rocked you, and he caught you in that really tight guillotine in the second round, I believe. Was there any moment you thought, “I'm in trouble”?
JS: Yeah, in that guillotine, I was really in trouble. I think at other moments too, he was on my back, and then trying to get the kata-gatame [arm triangle], and I was thinking, “s--t!” In my mind, I felt I was behind. [During a fight,] some people will tell me “you're even,” or they'll say, “you're winning,” but I always think I'm behind. When I come to Japan too, I have to make sure that my opponent is not going to come back, so that's why I think that way.
SD: Speaking of which, I have the judge scorecards of the fight up until the fifth round, and it appears as if you were quite behind. Now that you have a chance to see them, do you have any thoughts about how the scores were shaping up?
JS: [Santiago takes a moment to look over the scores before responding] Well, I have to watch the fight again since I don't quite remember all of it. But, I do remember I rocked him several times. I don't agree that I was that far behind though. He had me in a guillotine, but I wasn't rocked. I remember rocking him like three times. Maybe the [judges'] point of view is a little bit different? If you were to look at his face and my face, you'd think that too. But, I have to go home and watch the fight again. Every [judge] will have a different view -- some are from boxing, some are from judo. That's why I never want to leave a fight in their hands. I respect all of them, but you never know how they're going to see it.
SD: I think one point of interest is the fourth round, where they gave you a red card when you scooted out of the ring. Were you surprised that they jumped right to the red card instead of giving you a yellow card?
JS: Yeah, me too! I thought, “f--k, no yellow? Straight to the red card? But he did the same thing too.” If I'm not wrong, [it was when] he got rocked against the ropes. I mean, if you get rocked and you don't have anywhere to go, you're not going to do it on purpose -- I don't think so. You're getting hit, you want to get out of the way, and it's the only way to go. He did the same thing, but there was no yellow card or red [card for Misaki]. Like I said, the point of view of the referees differ. I'm just saying.
SD: Then I suppose the real question here is, “which do you prefer? Ring or cage?”
JS: That's a very interesting question, because I train mostly in a cage. For a long time I hated the cage, but now I like it very much, and I train less in the ring. Only when I have fights [in it] do I train in the ring. All my friends fighting in the UFC and other shows are always fighting in the cage, so I always train with them in the cage. I'd like to come back and fight in the cage someday. I like the cage too.
SD: You turned in another fight of the year candidate this evening, and it's likely not the first one you've had with Misaki. After two fights like this with him, what's your thought on them and the relationship you two have developed?
JS: I dunno' man. He's a tiger, you know? Like a lion, you know? He has that fire in his eyes and in his heart. I do too. We're the same. We both feel like we're not going to just give a fight to anybody. Like he was saying [at the press conference], the champion of this bout is going to be the one who wants it more, who has more will. You know what? I've been through that before and I know what I want. I think if we always fight with that mindset, we'll always put on great shows.
SD: You said before that you wanted to defend this belt for as long as you're alive. Do you have any idea who might be next in line to try and challenge you for it?
JS: Bro, no idea. I know that was the number one Japanese fighter they could get to fight for it this time. But, there are a lot of other great Japanese fighters here, so I just hope they can bring them to Sengoku for me to fight. I still want to face more Japanese fighters. There are so many great names here, but I don't know whether they're still fighting in other shows. Like [Yoshihiro] Akiyama -- is he still in the UFC?
JS: Ah. Well, guys like Akiyama, [Kazushi] Sakuraba -- I just hope they can bring someone in. I think [the fans] want to see me fight a Japanese fighter, too.
SD: Changing topics a little bit, there was a moment in the middle of your fight tonight where they panned to SRC featherweight champ Marlon Sandro, and he looked like he was going crazy, cheering for you, shouting advice. What's it like to be down here with not only the support of your team, ATT, but also from the guys in Nova Uniao?
JS: We have a great relationship. We see each other everywhere you know, so we're always hanging out, talking. My last fight against [Mamed] Khalidov, he was there ringside with his coach, Andre Pederneiras. When we have the chance, we help each other every time. We're all from Brazil, so we come here and we don't have anybody but each other. We fought some of their guys back in the day, like JZ [Gesias Cavalcante] against Shaolin [Vitor Ribeiro], but we're good friends. I'm always cheering for Marlon too. I'm really glad he's featherweight champion here.
SD: There's been discussion that Sandro might fight in the next Dream as a representative of SRC. As a Sengoku champ yourself, are you going to cheer him on?
JS: Of course. I'm gonna' cheer for him and look out for him. I know he's gonna' do well. He's a top contender in his division, and I hope to see him defend his championship for a long time. I don't think there are many people who can challenge him, though. But me, as a champion here, I hope they give me a call too.
SD: I don't think there will be enough time if it does happen, since the Dream 16 card will be happening in about a month.
JS: Oh really?
SD: Yeah, which brings me to my next question: how're you feeling now and what's ahead for you?
JS: I'm tired, man. [Laughs] I think it's gonna' be one week where I'm not gonna' do anything. Just eating ice cream and watching TV. But thank God, I'm healthy. I don't feel that bad -- just bruises and [soreness]. I don't think I hurt my hands either. I dunno', I think I want to fight two more times this year.
SD: But for the meantime, ice cream and rest?
JS: For one week. [Laughs] I don't want to gain the weight anymore. I want to stay light like this time and stay in shape. I want to get into even better shape.
SD: One last question: Misaki's corner seemed to throw in the towel in the last round. What are your thoughts on that and do you know why?
JS: I didn't see it, actually.
SD: Do you remember anything from the end of the fight?
JS: Oh, of course, yeah, I remember the [ending] round. We went back and forth, and I punched and punched, but I didn't see them throw in the towel. He was really bad though, but he was hanging in there, and I knew the ref wouldn't stop it unless he was completely out. Like when I fought [Kazuhiro] Nakamura, I had to knock that guy out bad, bad, bad just to get them to stop the fight. But yeah, they should have thrown in the towel. [Misaki] was in real bad shape. I just talked to him now. He looks real bad.
SD: Yes, I just saw him too. His face is completely swollen.
JS: Yeah. Yeah, it's everywhere.
SD: Well, that's all my questions. Thanks for taking the time, and also thanks for another outstanding fight this evening.
JS: Thank you guys, and thanks for always supporting me. Hope to see you again soon, in Japan.