Léo Santos grew slowly in the competition. The 33-year-old was not deemed a favorite to win TUF Brazil 2, but he blew the minds of a lot of people as he fought the show’s most exciting, active bout versus Santiago Ponzinibbio in the semifinals.
Last Saturday he clashed with one of the show’s most charismatic characters in William Patolino, and saw himself in the position of the underdog. Not letting the pressure of the crowd or his opponent’s heavy hands get to him, the BJJ black belt focused on his goal and attained a UFC contract as he got Patolino to tap out due to a katagatame.
Today, Santos is known all across Brazil, but has yet to get used to his newfound fame and lack of time. But he was gracious enough to grant GRACIEMAG.com an interview where he talked about life after winning the TUF Brazil 2 finale.
“To tell you the truth I was shocked at the power of TV,” Santos said. “I became an idol overnight, people recognize me on the streets … I want to harvest the fruits of all that’s happening, but all in good time. Right now all I can do is get some rest because I still haven’t gotten any. This Tuesday I’m heading to Nova União to thank the teammates who helped me get this far.”
On whether it was hard facing such a beloved fighter as Patolino, Léo said with a smile, “He is more extroverted and I’m more shy. I noticed most of the crowd was supporting him at
the beginning, but when they saw my will to win was greater, they decided to get behind me. I knew recognition was only gonna come through hard work.”
Coming from a Jiu-Jitsu background, the champion didn’t hide his happiness for having won with a katagatame.
“I feel unique because of my Jiu-Jitsu,” he said. “So far I hadn’t been able to show this in the UFC, so winning TUF via submission was really the best thing that could have happened to me. I was even thinking I had become a striker, but after this bout I see the gentle art is in my veins, in my soul – it’s a part of me.”
Frazzled from so many professional obligations, Santos does not yet think about returning to the Octagon. First he wants to take time to discuss with his coaches about what weight class he’ll be fighting at, but even before that he just wants to enjoy some long-overdue vacation time.
“My team and I are going to converse about weight classes,” said the new UFC employee. “Of course I’d be very strong at lower weights, but I did enjoy not having to give up eating the stuff I like. I got down to 77kg easily and the experience was good. I’ll decide this with people with more Octagon experience, but for now I’m chill. There’s no date for my next fight. When I start resting, I’ll start thinking about when I’m gonna resume my training,”