Welcome back fight fans and we are just days away from what many are calling “the best CFFC card the organization has ever had.” Looking at it on paper, this is one that I’m sure Arias Garcia Jr is smiling at. Earlier this month we featured 1/2 of the main event in Matt “SMG” Lozano and today we got the privilege to talk to a man who many regard as one of the top 125ers in the world and perhaps the best not in the UFC yet, Sean “Shorty Rock” Santella (15-5). Sean had been the face of the CFFC for years before venturing out to test the waters of other promotions and we saw his triumphant return to the CFFC last Feb when he beat Andrew Cseh. December 17th he is the headliner and is battling for the 125 strap. So take a minute to get on social media and follow @srock125 and now its time to meet the man!
Welcome back champ! We always loving getting to sit down with one of Jersey’s Finest. Last time we saw you in the cage you took home a decision win over Cseh. Talk to us about how it felt to be back in a CFFC cage after taking some time to fight in other promotions.
Santella: It felt good to be back at CFFC. I’m always just looking to fight the best fighters in the world regardless of the promotion but I know that CFFC is a very well-run promotion so you know what you’re going into. It’s probably one of the closest organizations run like a UFC caliber organization as possible regionally.
Well you of all people know our love for the CFFC from the top to the bottom and we couldn’t agree more. It was also awesome to have you back! Now you have overcome some pretty serious injuries in the last 2 years, injuries that could have limited you during that 2 fight skid you took. But you have bounced back and won 2 straight, do you feel you are at the top of your game and if so what does that mean for the rest of the 125ers out there?
Santella: I definitely feel like I’m at the top of my game, 3 years ago I was with a different fight camp. Now I train with the best guys in the world that are close to my size and the best coaches in the world. They make sure I’m prepared every day, getting better every day and every time I step into the cage it’s a better Shorty Rock then last.
That is awesome man and I know you love the new surroundings. We are also pumped to see this new and improved Shorty Rock live on the 17th at the 2300 Arena. Speaking of that, you are headlining what many are calling and early entry for MMA Card of the year as you take on Matt Lozano for the CFFC 125 strap, a belt you had for a long time. Talk to us about what it means to be back in the main event in the CFFC and battling for the belt. Do you feel any added pressure being in the main event of such an insane card?
Santella: The CFFC is always putting on great cards so it’s an honor to be their main event, I don’t feel any added pressure. Every fight is the biggest fight of my career. This fight is no different whether it was starting the night off or finishing the night, I’m going to treat it the same way. I have a job to do and I’m gonna do it. I put a lot of pressure on myself just for the simple fact that I hold myself to a higher standard and expect greatness. I treat every fight like it’s going to be my last and I give it my 110% each time I step into that cage.
ArtofMMA: And that’s why the masses love you! Now speaking of Lozano, you guys have had some social media sparring back and forth. Is that all for show or is there some tension between you? What do you see when you look at his tape? You both have a very high level game on the ground but do you feel he is on your level, why or why not?
Santella: There’s no tension between me and Matt, I feel this is a fight that the fans want to see so we don’t really have to sell it. Of course you’re going to go back and forth whose better, everybody thinks that they’re the best always and this is no different. I respect him as a fighter and I’m sure he does the same with me. I pretty much respect everybody that walks into the cage that gives it there all. As far as our ground games I think I’m personally better than everyone in the world at 125lbs when it comes to MMA jitz. I’m a nightmare stylistically for anyone at my weight.
Love it man, just a good old back yard scrap with guys who fight like they are locked in a phone booth! So in terms of this fight, what can fans expect, do you think it is a fight we will see “Shorty Rock” let the hands loose or are we in store for a chess match on the ground? Where do you feel you have the advantage?
Santella: I’m not going to shy away from anything in this fight. Where I feel that the fight needs to go in order for me to win is where the fights going to go. If I want to keep it standing and bang or if I want to take him to the ground and submit him I feel I have the advantage regardless and I’m just going to enforce my will on him.
Looking at this fight on paper it’s going to be insane wherever it goes as you both have a great portfolio of skills. Your fight record reads as a who’s who at 125 and 135. Talk to us about your favorite memories so far and are where do you think Matt ranks in that list?
Santella: I’ve been in this game for a while definitely have a lot of memories good and bad I feel I got more memories from my losses maybe because I learned more from them than my wins. The first half of my career is a big blur lol… As for good memories when I fought Dave Morgan and put him to sleep, I’ve always dreamed about putting somebody to sleep and actually mocking them with my hands as if I was taking a nap which I did which was pretty cool. The one memory or fight that I’d really like to get back or get over is the Jimmy Grant fight. I didn’t listen to my coaches and I fought him when he missed weight by like 4 lbs. I still feel I won that fight, it was a bad performance I felt like he didn’t do anything and that it’s still digs away at me for the simple fact that he just laid on top of me and his coaches were screaming just hold on just hold him I don’t care if they stand you up. We got stood up like 5 times in the fight in a three-round fight to get stood up 5 times is unacceptable and I even apologized to my fans for that. It was kind of a memory that has stuck with me and bothers me. As for the Lazano fight I really don’t know if it’s going to be any memories for all I know we go out there and you know it could be a quick fight or a 5 round battle and be one of the best fights in flyweight history you never really know.
I have a feeling this is going to be one of those epic battles. Now I can’t wait to be at this card as I get to visit Shortyville with your fans being as crazy as they are. I know you are having a blast seeing all these fans taking photos with the signs for the fight. Talk to us about what they mean to you and if you could say something to all of them what would it be and why?
Santella: LOL, yeah my friends are pretty crazy, I have a good following. They follow me wherever I fight, New Jersey, PA doesn’t matter how far away I fight. We’re a pretty tight group they been with me from the beginning. I sell a lot of tickets the fan base is great, I owe everything to my fans and if it wasn’t for them you know. I don’t think I’d be fighting without all their support through the good times and bad times. It’s bed amazing, it’s a great feeling with having them have my back regardless of the decisions I make or how fights go and stuff like that. Some of my fights fell through and I didn’t fight and my fans stood by me. I did go through a rough patch where I had a bunch of fights fall through and we couldn’t get ticket money back and stuff like that so I definitely owe a lot to my fans and to Shortyville.
Man, I’m not gonna play around, half way through that answer I thought you were about to pull a Hendo and talk about retirement… NOPE I am not gonna be the guy reporting that, I know your friends and fan base all too well and I like my body intact and house standing hahaha. Now we briefly touched on the UFC, with this fight being as highly talked about as it is do you feel this is the fight that gets you that UFC contract?
Santella: As hard as it sounds, I try not to think about the UFC. After this fight and if I win this fight you know I’ve been thinking about that for 4 years now and have people in my ear telling me next fight that you win you’ll get in. In the end I have to treat every fight like it’s going to be my last fight and I just got to go out there and give it my all and hopefully that day comes where I do get into the UFC but I’m not going to expect it. You know I’m just going to go out there and do my job and put on a great fight.
No doubt man! Now you are much like Frankie Edgar and Chris Weidman and bleed for NYC and Jersey. How awesome was it to have a UFC card in MSG and how big for the sport of MMA do you feel making MMA legal in NY was?
Santella: Having the UFC at the Garden was amazing, I was fortunate one of my clients got me tickets for my birthday and I was able to experience it firsthand. I had a bunch of teammates fighting on the card. The turnout was great for the sport and company. Great night of fights. Unfortunately we had a couple ups and downs, win and losses with the team but you know you win some you lose some everyone went out there and gave it their all. It was definitely a great experience firsthand. I’m so glad that the biggest organization can fight so close to home and in a place like Madison Square Garden. They’ve had some of the biggest fights in history there and I’m just super happy that they finally legalized it. I can’t really figure out why it took so long but I guess it’s a political thing so now that that’s all done then hopefully we can have some more big fights there and hopefully I’ll be in one of them.
Oh god, a Santella giant face on the board outside of MSG… I can see it now, and all your fans taking photos with it… Facebook and Instagram aren’t ready for that, don’t break the internet! Ok man I know time is short so before we let you go, are there any people or sponsors you would like to mention?
Santella: Big shout out to my team and all my training partners and coaches Miller Brothers MMA card, Almeida BJJ, Nick Catone MMA and I appreciate all the support from my sponsors, eat clean bro, beyond fitness, Timeless Motorsports, Nutrition Zone Byram, Mr. Sandman, Harley Breite Attorney at Law, Synergixx LLC, sick ink, U- Locker, The Golden Gup, Dj Kavkaz, Fighters Route 15 Used Car Center and TriCore human capital management.
There you have it fight fans, Sean Santella. Make sure to follow him via social media and either get to the 2300 Arena on the 17th or follow the fights on GFL because I promise you he will be a name you will soon see on UFC cards!