Bodog Fight Middleweight Champion Trevor Prangley may be considered the favorite to win California's first-ever sanctioned mixed martial arts tournament, but Florida's Jorge Santiago is prepared to upset the champ should they meet Friday, Nov. 16 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose.
"I'll throw everything I have at him," says Santiago. "I think I can beat him on the ground or standing up."
Santiago (14-7) and Prangley (16-4) are two of the four men competing in the single-elimination middleweight tournament that will headline Strikeforce: Four Men Enter, One Man Survives, presented by Bodog Fight.
The other combatants are Yuki Sasaki (21-13-1) and Falaniko "Niko" Vitale (24-7). The winner of the tournament will have to get through two matches, with each bout consisting of two five-minute rounds.
A random draw to determine the match-ups will take place during the weigh-in, and although Santiago recognizes Prangley's skills, he isn't afraid to face him in the tournament.
"Trevor Prangley says he is one of the best 185-pound fighters in the world and I agree with him, but everyone has his day."
A black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Santiago is a threat on the mat but he's also able to strike with the best – as he proved in his Bodog Fight debut last April in St. Petersburg, when he knocked out the hard-hitting Andrei Semenov with a vicious uppercut. The blow stunned the Russian so badly, he mistakenly attempted to tackle the referee before he could regain his bearings.
"I was almost out of that fight when he mounted me in the first round," recalls Santiago. "But I survived and caught him with that punch in the second. It felt great to beat him on his home turf, with the Russian crowd cheering against me."
Santiago is likely to face another hostile crowd in San Jose, where Prangley trains with the American Kickboxing Academy .
"I'm used to being the underdog," replies the American Top Team fighter. "It doesn't bother me, 'cause I don't feel any pressure. The pressure will be all on him."
What about the possibility of fatigue with two fights in one night? "I've been training hard for this event," says Santiago. "I've been working with a conditioning coach and I am ready to go the distance."
So, is he picking himself to win? "Of course," he laughs. "All the fighters are tough, but I think you will see something very unexpected from me. Ultimately, though, it's in God's hands."
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