Thiago Santos exits UFC, signs deal to join PFL roster for 2023 season


One-time title challenger Thiago Santos has parted ways with the UFC and signed a new deal to join the roster at the PFL ahead of the tournament-based promotion’s 2023 season.

PFL officials confirmed the news to MMA Fighting on Thursday following an initial report from ESPN.

A member of the UFC roster since 2013, Santos started his career with the promotion as a middleweight, where he racked up a number of impressive wins including knockouts over Anthony Smith, Jack Hermansson and Gerald Meerschaert.

Santos eventually moved up to 205 pounds and found even more success, winning three straight capped by a knockout of future UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz. That victory earned Santos a title shot, but he came up short in a close split decision loss to Jon Jones at UFC 239.

Santos sustained injuries to his knees in that fight and was forced from the cage for more than a year. Since coming back, he has gone just 1-4 in his past five fights including back-to-back losses to Magomed Ankalaev and Jamahal Hill in his most recent outings.

Now, Santos joins the light heavyweight roster at the PFL for his debut during the 2023 season. PFL Season 2 is underway. The finals at light weight will see another UFC veteran facing each other. Omari Akhmedov faces Rob Wilkinson in November.