With the UFC’s commitment to the action-packed flyweight division, one has to wonder who will fill out the weight class as the division moves forward. If New Jersey’s Sean “Shorty Rock” Santella (11-3-1) has his way, he will look to not only join the promotion but thrive in it. MMAFrenzy caught up with the talented flyweight prospect before tonight’s bout at CFFC 19.
Hailing from Whippany, New Jersey, Sean Santella came up through the high school wrestling ranks in arguably the toughest region in the state. After high school wrapped, some of Santella’s wrestling buddies tried to get him into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The future flyweight initially resisted, due to his hard partying at the time, but eventually was persuaded. “Shorty Rock” quickly fell in love with the sport and the rest was history.
Santella evolved quickly into a formidable all-round grappler and that skill set has shown greatly in his MMA career, notching eight of his eleven career victories by submission. While grappling is his strength, Santella has looked to round out his game by improving his striking game through an increased focus on boxing and Muay Thai. The New Jersey native is looking to improve his game before he hits the UFC stage.
UFC president Dana White has made it clear that he is a big fan of the action-packed flyweight division. Despite this, Santella does not feel the division gets enough credit from the fans, said the fighter, “I don’t think people give flyweight enough credit. I don’t understand people complaining about it, you have a high pace along with knockouts and submissions. The last fight DJ and Dodson was great, I was surprised Dodson didn’t press on the knockdowns, but I didn’t understand people booing the fight.”
“Shorty Rock” believes he could make an impact in the growing UFC division. I asked Santella about the UFC president’s comments about creating a 115-pound division and whether he would be interested as well. Santella told me, “125 is my home, but 115 would be possible. My diet is such that that I could make 125 on diet alone, so with the right program 115 is possible. [However] I am not going to do it for chump change, I would only do it for the UFC.”
The flyweight prospect will step back into action tonight, defending his CFFC flyweight title against Strikeforce veteran Anthony Figueroa tonight at CFFC 19. Santella states that while it appears to be a striker versus grappler pairing, to watch out for his improving striking game. While the fight is coming on only 10-days notice, the New Jersey-native insists he is ready for a five-round war. The card will be available via online PPV at 8PM according to the CFFC website.
Finally, I asked Santella who he was picking in tonight’s UFC 156 main event between champion Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar. Unsurprisingly, “Shorty Rock” was picking his fellow New Jersey native, “Frankie, not just because he is from Jersey, he is one of my favorite fighters to watch. Reminds me of the 125 pounders with style, again, I don’t know how you boo him. He is always an exciting fighter.”
Be sure to keep an eye on the promising flyweight prospect as he looks to continue to take care of business tonight and as he continues to aim for a shot at the UFC and eventually the UFC flyweight crown.
[UPDATE] Article was updated to reflect the correct opponent for last night’s CFFC 19 bout 14:31hrs
For more on Sean Santella, visit AMAFightClub.com.