Veteran flyweight Sean ‘Shorty Rock’ Santella returns to the cage on Sat. November 6, when he takes on Russia’s Rizvan Abuev at BRAVE CF 55, in Rostov-On-Don, Russia.
Originally part of the BRAVE CF flyweight tournament, Santella fought Jose ‘Shorty’ Torres in the quarter-finals at BRAVE CF 42. The bout ended in a draw, and the pair were set to meet in an anticipated rematch at BRAVE CF 49 until injury forced Santella out of the bout, and subsequently, the tournament.
However, rather than becoming downcast, Santella used the layoff wisely, letting his body heal, working on his game, and readying himself for the call that eventually came from the BRAVE CF matchmakers.
“Unfortunately, I always say if it was not for bad luck, I would have no luck at all,” Santella says, speaking to LowkickMMA, sounding like a man who thrives on overcoming adversity.
“I understand with me having to pull out in the first time in 30 something fights, they weren’t going to put me right back in there, and I had to wait, which I think did my body good. I got to recover, I got to sharpen some of my skills, and I am ready to go, so I am super excited, and I can’t wait for this fight. “
Santella may no longer be in the flyweight tournament, but victory over Abuev will keep him in contention for a shot at whoever captures the inaugural BRAVE CF flyweight strap. The main event of BRAVE CF 55 will be the tournament’s second semi-final, with Torres going up against Russia’s Ali Bagautinov, with the winner then taking on Chechenya’s Velimurad Alkhasov. Santella makes no secret of who he hopes will get their hands on the title.
“I know Rizvan is a tough opponent. He is 12-3. He has a lot of knockouts, so this will be my toughest fight to come, and this is the one I am really focused on, but I will definitely be rooting for “Shorty” to win the tournament outright. I think we have some unfinished business, ” Santella says.
” I know that Torres has a tough opponent with Ali in front of him, and hopefully everything goes well, and I will be seeing him again. Win, lose or draw, I would love to get that fight back.”
This is Santella’s second act with BRAVE CF after competing for the Bahrain-based promotion in 2018 at BRAVE CF 14. However, it would be two years before the New Jersey native would again fight under the BRAVE banner after he and the company briefly parted ways.
“I’m about fighting staying active and collecting wins and collecting finishes. I don’t want to sit around. So I asked to fight out of contract, I did it twice before my contract ran out.” Santella explains.
“I went back to Cage Fury and got to fight in front of my local fans, I was able to go back into a title fight after a couple of wins. I fought someone who was in the UFC [Naoki Inoue], I fought a couple of up and coming prospects to get my belt back, so I thought it was good as I was able to stay active and I think that was really what led to me getting back into BRAVE. They changed the structure, they offered me this tournament, and I was so excited about this tournament.”
Santella’s run at Cage Fury saw him pick up three successive wins, while at the same time, BRAVE CF continued building their flyweight roster. The division now features a mix of veterans like Dustin Ortiz, and Zach Makovsky, alongside rising talents such as Muhammad Mokaev. For a fighter like Santella, who wants to stay busy against world-class opposition, returning to the promotion made perfect sense.
“I think BRAVE has one of the strongest flyweight rosters in the world, and that is why I signed with them so that I could fight tough guys,” Santella says.
“I want to fight the best guys, I am competitive. You put someone in front of me, and I am going to try and take it to them, and I am going to try and win every way possible. I am always looking for a finish.”
Even with over a decade of experience under his belt, it is evident when speaking to Santella that his desire to compete is as strong now as it was when he went pro back in 2008. He knows being out of the tournament will make his journey to a flyweight championship bout just that little bit harder, but ‘Shorty Rock’ is a born competitor and the kind of fighter who relishes a challenge.
” I am not looking for any freebies; put me in there with whoever. Just let me know when we’re fighting, and I am good to go; that’s all I really need.”
Are you excited about the return of ‘ Shorty Rock”?