UFC Fight Night 115 Newcomer Breakdown: Mike Santiago

Prior to each UFC card, Jay Primetown takes a close look at debuting fighters. In the latest installment, we look at Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series competitor Mike Santiago as he makes his UFC debut against fellow debutant Zabit Magomedsharipov at UFC Fight Night 115.

Mike “Little Bully” Santiago

Hometown: Melrose Park, Illinois
Age: 28
Height: 5-foot-10
Reach: 69”
Weight Class: Featherweight
Camp: Team Top Notch
Career Record: 21-9
Key Wins: Mark Cherico
Key Losses: Phillipe Nover, Frankie Perez


The 28-year-old featherweight is fresh off a victory over Mark Cherico in Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. Santiago is a proven finisher with 15 first-round stoppages.


  • Aggressive striker
  • Does a tremendous job of landing to the body
  • Significant punching power for the weight class
  • Really nice right hook


  • Takedown defense is a question mark
  • Doesn’t do well in transition situations
  • When put on his back, doesn’t have much of a defensive game
  • If not able to finish in round one, can be outworked 

Fighter Grade

Offensive Striking: C
Striking Defense: D+
Knockout Power: C+
Athleticism / Speed: C-
Footwork: D+
Chin: C-
Offensive Wrestling: D
Takedown Defense: D
Submissions: C-
Conditioning: D
Intangibles: D+

Overall Grade: D+

Matchup with Zabit Magomedsharipov

An interesting matchup of prospects pits the Russian Magomedsharipov against Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series contestant Santiago. This is a battle between two strikers with a much different approach. The Russian is a much more strategic striker. He is very accurate with his punches and looks to land pinpoint shots to finish his opponent. Santiago is the exact opposite. He attempts to walk his opponents down and throw heavy strikes at them. Santiago comes out strong and will look to hurt his opponent in the early moments of the fight. If he’s unable to do that, I expect him to slow down as soon as the second round. As Santiago slows down, he’ll be vulnerable to Magomedsharipov’s punches and likely be put away. This fight is unsurprisingly lined at 1.5 rounds. With each fighter’s propensity to finish, it’s unlikely the over hits in this bout.

UFC Ceiling

Santiago has a heavy offensive striking game. He’s a dangerous fighter to face because he is a natural finisher. He still has some growing to do to round out his game. Grappling is not his forte. He needs to improve his defensive wrestling and scrambling ability to have success in the UFC.

Fight Film

Check out Santiago in some of his most recent fights…

Santiago vs. Mark Cherico


Santiago vs. Phillipe Nover


Written by Jay Primetown

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