Ep. #21 – Sean Santella

Sean Santella is a mixed martial artist who competes in the Flyweight division He is widely regarded as the best Flyweight fighter outside of the UFC and held the Flyweight title for three different promotions.


Sean Santella: Alright man, well, how are things there in quarantine and how does that how’s training going? Well, I think we’re routines been crazy. You know I’m not used to being so like on Idol. You know, I’m always on the go. I’M always traveling for training, I’m always around people, so it was it’s rough getting used to and I just started kind of getting out of my shell a little bit and and doing my own routines, training wise and now I got somebody one of my close friends. That’S also been in quarantine that I’ve been working with just me and him one-on-one just to get some some more training in rather than just some like strength and conditioning and shadow box, we can actually roll, so it feels good. It feels good to be alive again I’ll tell you that is the. Is the gym gym open or are you just mainly doing it like a friend’s house? Well, the gyms not technically open, but I have a key, so I kind of just go in and there hasn’t been any classes. They do the zoom thing, but you know I’m allowed to go in and do my own thing as long as you know, we obviously clean up and stuff and we stay to a small area. But you know it’s not open to the public, but you know just for us to keep our sanity me and my buddy. It’S just kind of one-on-one. You know yeah, you uh, you recently were fighting for CF FC and that correct me. If I’m wrong you, you gave up your your belt there due to inactivity and them not being able to find find you some fights, you kind of go over exactly what what happened there. Yes, so pretty much like you said it, I mean they couldn’t find me a fight. I cleaned up the whole division, for you know the last seven or eight years for the most part, and it got to the point where I kind of outgrew, where I was, and it didn’t make sense business-wise for them to bring anybody else in, because I kind Of hit that that, like plateau of what a regional person can make financially and what would be beneficial for you know the business so by them flying somebody in from another country or country, it cost them a decent amount of money for a regional promotion and with Where my paygrade was with having so many fights and constantly winning my pay had to keep going up a little bit, and it just got to the point where it didn’t make sense for them. I didn’t feel like I deserved a pay cut for what I’ve done. So we kind of just came to the agreement of letting me go and try to fight elsewhere. Do I think that CFC could have done better for me marketing-wise while I was champion definitely do I think that they could have brought in other fighters? Definitely would it have probably cost them some money yeah, but I felt like I’ve done enough for the promotion in the last 10 years or so that maybe they owed me a fight or two that they could kind of. Take it on the chin and maybe not make money off me just to get me another fight to keep me active and for whatever the reason it just didn’t seem like they wanted to do that, and I can understand from a business standpoint, but I’ve been with Them for so long I just felt like I deserved it and I cleaned out my division and it was time for the you know the up and comers so to speak, to have a chance, and so that’s pretty much where we were at and you know they Agreed to, let me go so I can try to fight elsewhere, because I was under contract with them and I haven’t really had much success with. Obviously, everything going on and things getting shut down, but I’m still trying to fight for whoever, wherever whenever try to stay ready, and that’s that’s also why I’ve been training now keeping my weight down, because if something comes up, I want to make sure I can step In you know short notice, wherever it is yeah I mean I think, as far as I know, and I think a lot of other people agree: you’re, probably the best 125 or that’s not signed to Bellator UFC, and I was going through your you know – was just Scrolling through your topology, I was just like how is he not fought for UFC? I mean you’ve got 30 fights right, that’s unheard of at 125. I have a great finish tree, in my opinion. Some sometimes you know I’m getting a I’m getting people that are giving me a hard time about my my finish rate, because I I don’t have a 90 % finish rate. But what these guys don’t understand is I have 30 fights 30 fights and have a 90 % finish rate is unheard of especially lively, there’s nobody that has that at any weight class you know so out of 23 wins. I have 14 finishes. I think that’s pretty good and I’m getting overlooked by these guys that are six and two with five finishes. When I was six and two I had six finishes, you know so it’s like. I have you know five times as many fights as these guys, not only that five times as many wins, but my first half of my a career, I fought at 135 and I was still finishing guys. So you know it does make me wonder why they won’t give me an opportunity and if they think I can’t finish guys, they put me in with whoever you think and let me show you what I got you know shut me up that way and I just Haven’T had that opportunity yet – and I don’t know if they’re gon na, if, if the promotions are gon na, give it to me or not, but you know, I’m staying humble I’m staying ready and I just want a chance to prove to them that you know. I’M not just one of the best fly weights not signed to a big promotion, but I’m one of the best fly weights in the world today, right now yeah I mean, I think, the fact that you I thought after you beat in a way. I thought you ready a shot because I was like this: guy’s just beat a guy that was just released from the UFC, so you beat something up guys dominate. It, wasn’t even a close fight yep. So I think I I, how has exploring going is, how has exploring been going? Have you have you heard from any other promotions like ofa, even or not at all, I’ve been tried to fight for LFA or about six or seven years. I was actually going back through emails back when they were RFA and legacy. I tried fighting for them and I couldn’t ever get a fight. My record at the time had like 14 or 15 wins. The thing is the standpoint, something I understand simply from experience and being around the fight game for 12 years, his him say 14 and 4 or 15 and 4. They want to bring me in to fight for the organization in Texas or California. I have to fight one of their top guys, it’s a my record chance of me going over there and fighting maybe for their belt and then winning it. They have to bring me back over business standpoint, I’m not selling tickets in Texas, California or wherever it is. It cost money to fly me and it cost money to fly my corner and put me in a hotel and then for me to go, and you know say, beat one of their guys. You don’t want to do that from a business standpoint, so I can understand that you know, but it’s still frustrating because I believe in the best fights and if you think that your guy is the best in the world, let him prove it and fight another best. In the world guy regardless, if it costs you, you know a couple hundred a couple thousand dollars you put on the show, know all the time I’m on social media and I see hey looking for a flyweight and I throw my name out there and oh no, No and it’s like so why are you posting looking for a flyweight if you’re, if you’re, picking and choosing who you can have matched up? Oh and I tried to fight on short notice for LFA for their title. It was on less than a week’s notice that kid royval who’s their champion who’s gon na be fighting the contender I hit them up. When I found out that he lost his opponent, we heard back from them. They went and got a kid Nate Williams, who I fought and finished a fight on short notice. How makes me wonder, you’re, obviously setting your guys up for success, you know, but putting on the best fights and they’re getting pushed into the contender series and I’m getting passed up because they’re protecting the third guys. Oh I’m always a believer I’d. Let the best fighter pour in his career. You know no politics not adding records. I never turned down a fight. I’Ve always turned down a fight 25:35. Oh I’ve always turned down a fight. I’Ve always stepped up. I’Ve. Always you know, sold tickets. I’Ve always done everything missed, wait on short notice, he’s sendin in a 7 day period, like that’s just my mentality as a fighter, and I just feel that this new generation of fighters are spoiled because the promotion’s have shown that they don’t take the best fighters. They simply take people that are on win streaks, it doesn’t matter strength of opponent, highs, 5 and oh and he’s beaten, 5 tomato cans. Forget it and over a guy, that’s fought tougher competition. So, unfortunately, that seems to be cause of mixed martial arts, sustaining hatred sucks because every other major sporting event the best runningback. You know the best point guard the fastest guy, like they get in the best guys in that area always get on to the the biggest promotion or for the major league so to speak, and it with MMH just doesn’t seem like that’s it yeah. It seems to be about marketability, and – and you know, if this guy’s ain’t no and he’s young and hungry and good-looking he’s, got a better shot than someone who’s, 35 and 3 or 35 or 4 who’s had harder stiffer competition, like you said, I think you know You look at guys like sage Northcutt and they got rushed into it simply because of their marketability. You’Ve fought 30 times 31 times, I think 23 and 7, and someone who has 30 fights at flyweight. I don’t think there’s anybody, even in the UFC that has a record like that 30 fights, I would say I would say at least 20 by 20 to 22 of them fights in my career. I’Ve, you know, defended a title. Multiple times won multiple titles and multiple Winnie classes, so it definitely is a it’s definitely challenging for me to see. What’S going on and, unfortunately you know, I haven’t gotten good responses. My management hasn’t gotten good responses back as to why a lot of promotions. They say, maybe that they’re not interested or they just flat-out, say they’re, not interested, and we try to follow up with hey. Okay, that’s cool. We respect that. What can we do to catch? Your interest and we’re just really not getting anything back. You know the one every time I’ve gotten an excuse back, it seems like it just doesn’t make sense, because I can point a finger to show why that’s that’s BS. You know I’m saying whether it’s an age thing, whether it’s a record thing, whether it’s a finish rate thing, I can always like rebut it and say no, that’s not true, because you did this with this guy or I have a better record than this. Guy have more finishes and more wins than this guy you know. So in the end, you just don’t know. Unfortunately, I just wish there was a more of a structure of you know how to get to the bigger leagues, where it’s just XY and Z, rather than you know something that people don’t know. You know yeah. How ready are you like if you got a call? Let’S say fight islands happening at the end of May, or you know they need someone to step up for May 13th or May 16th, and whenever these cards are for the UFC or June for Bellator, or are you ready for those or do you want a full Training camp to make sure you’re good to go with proper training and proper coaching. Well weight-wise. I was 128 pounds today, so I could fight at 115. If one Fc called me and want me to fight at 115, I could do it. You know I would fight tomorrow, if I could for for a bigger promotion at 125. I never let myself get out of shape, I’m always doing something you know. So, even if I’m not in fight shape, I’m to bring it, you know I’m gon na leave it all out there. I fought sick before when I fought Naoki, I had the flu and ended up going into the hospital with pneumonia. Right after that, you know I mean I was like shocked downstairs. I was so dehydrated and shaking after that fight I went into that camp pretty much but not into the camp, but I finished the camp, you know pretty sick, you know and I had a great performance, so you know I always you know pride myself on being Ready weight-wise in shape and I’m win lose or draw like I’m gon na go out there and give it my all. I’M never gon na. You know laid out for anybody, and I feel, like I’ve shown that so I just need that opportunity. I could literally fight tomorrow it I’ve always dreamed that I’m cornering somebody in the UFC and somebody misses weight or gets sick at weigh-ins kind of like with James Krause like I’ve, always envisioned that for me, because that’s how much I stay ready, but I wouldn’t have To jump up a weight class, I wouldn’t even have to jump up to 35. I could literally have them tell me. I need you to make 125 in an hour and I could make it and and make that 125 126 pound weight and then fight the next day. You know without a problem and I feel like I could really finish any of those guys in the UFC at 125 pounds. I train with a lot of those guys and listen. You know they’re the top guys and they know even that. I belong there by how how I’m going and training with these guys. You know I’m never a pushover at 25 or 35 with any guys I’ve ever trained, but you know I’ve always been hanging in there. You know I’ve never been washed up by anybody that I’ve ever trained with that 25 or 35. So I honestly believe that I can. I could make an impact at either weight class if, given the opportunity, obviously 25 would be ideal because I’m naturally a 25, but I wouldn’t shy away from 35. You know, as long as I have that opportunity yeah. I think I like it that you even look at your record and the losses you do have like you went to decision with. In my opinion, the best 135 were in the world, al jhemini and sterling. You know you’ve you’ve fought some some top-level guys and the losses you do have aren’t too. You know some random guys in some some local promotion, you’re, fighting UFC caliber, guys guys who have fought in the UFC or who went on to fight for the UFC and even by one fight that I feel like. Possibly the UFC kind of holds over. My head was that I think it’s nicknames Papa is the Joseph Morales fight yeah and most people don’t understand with that fight. That CF FC had contacted me about fighting Danny Martinez months months later after that, like that’s what I was preparing for, it was in the wintertime and I was out snowboarding on the mountain and I get a call from CF FC talking about me. Possibly fighting Danny Martinez and I want to say it was April right and yeah that fight was on March 25th, so the end of April. So I figured you know I had a good camp to get back into it and then I go snowboarding. You know – and you know, I’m enjoying snowboard and we’re in the lodge having a couple drinks eating and on the way home. I got a message saying: hey you know, do you want to fight? It was in, I think, nine days, nine or ten days in front of Dana and I’m like what are you guys talking about and I saw the email from Urijah Faber saying hey. I want you to match this guy up. You know I have a 25 or, and so they pulled the kid Joseph who was actually supposed to fight another UFC guy. Now the house was named state champ, he’s from Greg Jackson not signed for the contender series. I can’t think of his name, but awesome dude it’ll probably come to me, but they were supposed to fight five rounds and they pulled him off of it to fight me and I stepped in and I flew out to California, I made weight, they changed the date Of the event it was supposed to be on a Sunday and then they ended up put on a Saturday, zero training camp. You know a couple days notice. I flew out there and in my opinion I had a great great first round. It was a 10 e. First round across support, I dominate him. I dropped him. The first exchange took his back and just mold him, and then I just gassed you know I mean I’m literally going from a snowboarding on the mountain and having a couple drinks to fighting. You know less than a week against a guy that got into the UFC and that’s a fight that I always wanted back and most people just thought like that. That fight on the on the looking for a fight so to speak, was planned and a full training camp. And this that and the other thing – and I felt like that got held over my head and people – don’t realize that that kid went in there and his first fight in the UFC and got a $ 50,000 bonus because he finished the guy in his first fight And he’s you know he did well so that kind of bothered me you know, but listen, would I pass up that opportunity? Absolutely not. You know it was a chance for me to show Dana and you know Matt, and then you know me, and I got to do that, for you know the first five minutes and unfortunately you know, I think that that kind of got swept because even Dana came Up and said, hey, that was a great fight, but I don’t think that they really understood like leading up to that. You know, and I just wished that they gave me another chance against anybody with more than a weeks notice in that situation. You know yeah. I think you know I the guy that he was supposed to fight. Was Jordan Espinosa. I just pulled it up, but um. I think that you know you’re right, you could I mean the UFC’s. Flyweight division was almost folded at one point and now they starts to pick up steam again, but I think you’re right they’re, like top, you could easily be, I think, like some of the guys in the top ten yeah. So I think it really is only a matter of time that you get a call from a UFC or Bellator and hopefully the UFC, because it’s the biggest stage and biggest platform and, like you said, you’ve competed in front of Dana before so I’m hoping you get That shot I just want to fight the best guys you know like. I still have a lot to prove and you know me personally, I don’t want to end my career. As you know, retiring is say the wai-wait CF FC Chan for having the most fights in CF FC history, because there’s always going to be that question in my mind, even though I know I belong fighting you know and and I belong one of with the top Guys in the world I want, I want to prove that you know I’m saying: there’s always going to be that what? If simply because I didn’t get that opportunity, you know so I feel like not only myself gets robbed, but a lot of the fans get gets. Robbed to have that shown, you know and I put on great fights man I mean they’re fun, you know I’m either getting beat up or dominating. So it’s you know it’s a fun fight. You know I always bring it and I just feel, like I put in the time and the work that I deserve a top guy. You know regardless what promotion? It is whether it’s one, whether you know it’s it’s UFC, I just would love to fight some of the best guys in the world. You know that that’s always been. My goal is to compete at the top level and show that I belong yeah. What’S your, what’s your take on the current, I guess UFC kind of rushing to get these fights out, obviously your fighter, so I’m sure you’d want to get on the card and it wouldn’t matter to you. But what’s your what’s your stance on it? Do you think they’re doing the right thing by trying to push this out, or do you think it’s probably better and wiser to do what other organizations are doing? Roh, listen, the UFC’s always always taking the front lead with everything. So if anybody was gon na step up and try to do it, it was definitely gon na, be them and they’re capable of doing it and I feel like they are gon na. Take the prop the proper safety steps and making sure all the fighters and staff and everything is okay. You know I mean the show has to go on. You got all these people that rely on supporting their family. You know by fighting and now you take that away, what are they gon na? Do you know I mean you can’t get a job. You can’t really collect unemployment as a subcontractor with the UFC, so you know it puts them in a tough situation and – and I respect Dana for going out on the limb and and taking what he’s been taken from everybody for trying to do it. So I think that it’s it’s good. I think it’s it’s gon na be good. I think it’s it’s the start. I think other promotions are gon na gradually follow it’s. It’S just. You know he’s gon na he’s gon na be in hot water. If anything happens, you know, and I don’t think he cares, which is good. You know he’s gon na he’s gon na take it for his fighters. You know, but I I do think that he is gon na make sure that he does everything in his power to make sure everybody is safe and stuff like that, and I’m actually looking forward, I’m actually gon na be cornering so Jar Eubanks on the 13th. At her fight, so I’m interested just to see how the promotion puts everything on yeah. You know if it’s gon na be like Brazil, where they were busting each individual fight, pretty much straight from the hotel to the fight, and then they go right right in and fight. You know I’m a little curious to see and excited to see how that goes and again I think I think the world needs it. You know, I think they need something positive. No, I think right now, it’s just there’s so much going on with everything. People are just losing themselves and it’s really been crazy. You know mentally and – and you know I just think – it’ll be good all around for everybody, especially you know for people that really enjoy fighting. It gives them some some type of hope. You know, especially for me, you know so you know yeah. I think it’s good everybody’s gon na have their own opinion on it and I hope I pray to God that everybody is gon na be safe and they do take. The proper precautions in everything and Dana does follow everything that he says and I’m really excited to see this fight Island thing, you know that’s kind of interesting. You know I would love to fight on fight on and that’d be awesome yeah. It sounds like some Hunger Games type thing, but, but I’m all for it. I could tell you this. Those three fights that are coming up are probably gon na, be the most watched, UFC fights in history, because simply there’s nothing else to do, and it’s been held back for so long that it’s gon na everybody’s gon na be glued to the TV. For that you know yes, gon na bring in hockey fans, basketball fans, football fans, baseball, they’re, all gon na be watching those come on TV. That has to do it, sports so yep. If any type of sport, you’re gon na be glued to the TV and you’re gon na watch, it yeah yeah, it’s also a stacked card that first one is absolutely stacked: yeah yeah yeah. What are your uh? What are your thoughts on that that that card? What’S uh, who do you have winning? In the main event there Goethe and Ferguson, I’m a big Ferguson fan. I did his seminar. He came into his very first ever seminar in New Jersey, uh. When was it was a beginning of March end of February, something like that and just a cool dude. You know I’ve always been excited. I’M a huge fan, a 10th planet. It’S right up my alley with style, and you know he’s just careless. You know I love his style, he gets he gets hit. He keeps coming forward, he’s very unpredictable. You know he just he’s out there and he’s like free-spirited, which is awesome when he fights. So I think that he’s gon na, I think he’s gon na win. I can see him wear it on gitchy gitchy takes a lot of damage and he’s gon na have to use his wrestling in my opinion, and I’m just ever since the beatings that gage has taken. Nobody can take that much punishment without without starting to get chipped away. So you know I don’t see him finish in Ferguson and I could actually see Ferguson submitting him. You know or TKO in them. So I’m excited for that fight. It’S definitely gon na be a barn burner, but I think Ferguson has it. You know I think it’s gon na be closer than it was on short notice yeah, but I still don’t think it changes the the outcome of the fight I have. I I have Goethe winning for similar reasons. I guess like Toni, tends to take a beating, but I think it’s just gon na be. I think the determining factor is if it’s an early fight and it’s a quick fight, I think gage. He has it right. I think if Tony can weather the storm, I think he he pulls away in the end, so I don’t know, but I’m just it’s. I think this is probably the most exciting fight I’ve watched in a long time. I’M more excited for this and I was khabib. Tony yes, yeah yeah a lot of people. Don’T really that see it that way! Well the fight. What could be even Tony? You can kind of predict that it was mainly gon na be done on the ground, not saying it wasn’t gon na be exciting, because I think Tony I I think Tony beets could be simply because I don’t think a Biebs ever fought. Somebody that says active as Tony is off his back, so he’s not gon na sit there and just take a beating he’s gon na be throwing elbows submissions. He’S gon na be unorthodox. Getting up he’s not going to be traditional style wrestling with like a stand-up or a cage walk, so I I was excited for that, but this one is just a completely different fight. I think it goes everywhere things gon na be standing. I think it’s gon na be takedowns. I think you know it’s gon na be a bloody fight and yeah. I’M definitely more excited with this one, because you really don’t know you knew that khabib is gon na take Ferguson down and it was gon na be a dogfight, but with the gay chief fight there could be takedowns there. It could be stand-up like you just don’t know so you know it’s definitely to me a better fight for the fans yeah and I guess last question before I let you go if there are people who don’t aren’t familiar with your fights, UFC fans or fans of I guess the people who watch my podcast is there a fight that you would say you got to watch that fight that I was in. Is there a fight that you think was the best of your career best of my career? I would I would say that the the naoki fight and the the Andres, the one rate after that, those two fights I just feel like I’m getting better every fight and I’m dominating these guys and in where they’re strongest and it kind of just doesn’t even look Fair, you know, and you could see where I think that CF FC didn’t think the fights were gon na. Go that way that easily like, I think they thought. Okay, yeah. You know San tella, you know he could he could win this fight, but after dominating you know like and just mauling these guys like you can see on people’s faces like wow and I’ve. Actually, I think I’m just getting better, I’m getting more comfortable and it’s scary. After 30 fights, but it you know, that is that’s just me. That’S just how I been you know, I’m always improving. I’M never gon na be stale, I’m always learning you know. I never have that block up where I feel like I can’t get better. So I would say those two fights I think my best fight was actually against Nate Williams for PA cage fight, but there’s no video of it. And it’s because I got to show my stand up. I dropped him in every round and I end up finishing with a rear, naked choke. I think I finished him in the third or fourth, but I dropped him around yeah yeah. I think I dropped him four times so most people like oh there’s, no stand-up or this or that and you know I’ve been dropping people. I dropped that kid, Joseph Morales, who you know hats off to him. He he ended up. You know coming back to and I tried to wrestle him instead of pound him out, which is a mistake. I’Ll never make again, but you know again my last couple fights they’ve all been great, so any of those fights but those two, I think because of the name you got Naoki who is fighting over and rotting in rise. You know and he’s 200 over there they’re talking about him fighting for a title. You know so he just beat a really good guy from like Tiger Muay Thai, so he moved on and he’s actually moved on to a bigger promotion. Then we fought in and he’s doing well at a at a higher weight class 135 same thing with Andres he’s fighting for the title at 135 in combat Americas, which is another bigger promotion than CF FC, most people would argue at a higher weight class. So it’s like dude, I’m dominating these guys and they’re moving on to bigger promotions, fighting for titles. You know so um. You know. I just want my opportunity. Man, that’s a you know, but those fights are great blood. You know a lot of striking a lot of exchanges, a lot of submission attempts, a lot of elbows they’re fun fights to watch. You know, so I feel like all my fights are, though, yeah for sure all right man. Well, thank you for taking the time to talk man and hopefully get signed to a big organization. I think you’re deserving of it you’ve who’s who you’ve have 30 fights. I think your number one-ranked a flyweight outside of the main organization so fingers crossed you get you get a fight here soon. I appreciate man thanks for having me and thank you for all the support. Yep all right man have a good one stay safe. You too, take care.

Sergio Pineiro

Sergio Pineiro is the Founder of FighterPath.com and host of the Quarantinecast podcast. Based in Canada he is both a sports journalist and MMA enthusiast. He practices the sport but has a passion for the individual stories of training, fighting and living the fighting lifestyle.

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