Bellator Fighting Championships heavyweight Thiago Santos (10-1 MMA, 2-0 BFC) claims he is a changed man.
After making the trip from the U.S. back to his native Brazil, Santos has reflected on his Bellator 62 weight gaffe, and "Big Monster" takes full responsibility.
While Santos' camp was initially critical of Bellator brass, the fighter and his team now admit not making weight is nobody's fault but their own. And while the mistake cost Santos a chance to fight for Bellator's heavyweight belt, he's positive it will never happen again.
"First, I'd like to apologize to the entire Bellator team, to my fans and to MTV2," Santos told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) in his native Portuguese. "I take responsibility for my error and promise that starting today, all will see a new Thiago 'Big Monster.'
"I thought I could cut weight two weeks in a row. I didn't manage to do it. I tried everything but couldn't lose a single gram."
Santos earned his way into Bellator's season-five tournament final with impressive submission wins over Neil Grove and Josh Burns. He then faced Eric Prindle in the finals of the tourney only to see the fight end in a no-contest after kicking his opponent in the groin. The controversial ending set up a rematch at Bellator 61, but that fight was delayed one week when Prindle was stricken with "flu-like symptoms."
Santos then failed to make weight for the rescheduled rematch at this past Friday night's Bellator 62 event, he was pulled from the fight, and his opponent was awarded a season-five tournament victory.
Santos' manager, Josef Borges, initially put some of the blame on the promotion, claiming that the need to cut weight in two-consecutive weeks made it impossible for his client. However, now that he's had a chance to reflect, Borges is also changing his tune.
"I would like to publicly request Bellator's forgiveness," Borges said. "I was emotionally stunned by all that took place. Thiago arrived from his trip home and spoke to me. He helped me see that the blame for what happened is ours only.
"Bellator has always treated Thiago well, and Thiago had every chance to become the champion. As such, I withdraw my previous statements and apologize to Bellator. I admit our error, and we'll make changes to make sure it does not happen again."
Santos currently walks around at more than 300 pounds and cuts to the heavyweight limit of 265. However, after this incident, he's going to trim down in an effort to avoid future issues. He also promises to make Bellator proud of their decision not to release him from his contract.
"Starting now, I'll follow the advice of my manager Josef Borges and my teacher Cezar 'Casquinha' Guimaraes, and I'll remain at 118 kilograms (260 pounds) for my next bouts," Santos said. "I wish to thank Sam Caplan, who took good care of me and gave me his full support. Thank you, Sam.
"I wish to put an end to all controversy. I admit my guilt and exempt Bellator. I received good advice from my team, but I did not listen, so I wish to publicly admit my error, and I ask for the forgiveness of the fans and others I've disappointed. I promise to do things differently going forward.
"I owe a debt to Bellator and plan to pay it with exciting fights. I hope they call me to fight soon because I'll be very motivated."