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The Stoppage: Leo Santos vs Stevie Ray

Event Date | 01 June 2019‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎

UFC Stockholm: Gustafsson vs Smith

For reasons unknown, this remains one of my favorite KOs of all time. Leonardo Santos has fought just seven times since his UFC debut back in 2013, but he is a long time veteran of the game with fights dating back to the early 2000s.

In early 2013, Santos competed in the second season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, where, following a string of wins (including one over current top contender Thiago “Marreta” Santos), he would lose a close decision to “Gente Boa” Santiago Ponzinibbio in the semifinals. Ponzinibbio, however, had sustained a hand injury during this fight, and was not going to be able to recover in time for the finals. This set the stage for Leo Santos to make his official UFC debut against fellow finalist William Macario at Nogueira vs Werdum 2–in the co-main event slot no less.

In his first fight on a televised UFC card vs. William Macario, Santos weathered through the first round (which is when, judging by how quickly Macario gassed out, is when he is most dangerous), and in the second round, took Macario down and swiftly submitted him.

So began a win streak that continues to this day. He was an underdog going into four of his five subsequent fights, all of which he won. (OK, that’s technically false since his fight against Norman Parke was a draw.) Following that came his bout with Stevie Ray, which is what inspired this post.

Santos’s improvements from one fight to the next have always been a joy to watch, but for him to step inside the ring against someone like Stevie Ray, control the entire pace of the fight, and then deliver that scene in the video above…

Having watched MMA regularly only since 2015, I missed a good chunk of Santos’s journey. Yet, based on his most recent fight, it would seem he’s got a lot more to show us, as he seems to be in his prime despite having just turned 40. I wish him the best in his future fights, win, lose, or draw.