Ex-UFC title challenger Taila Santos confident entering PFL’s $1 million tournament: ‘I’m one of the favorites’

Taila Santos is eager to start a new chapter in her MMA career, as she believes she can be both a champion and a millionaire by the end of it.

Santos (19-3), a former UFC title challenger, makes her PFL debut this Thursday at 2024 PFL 1 in San Antonio. It’s her first fight since her unexpected exit from the UFC late last year. Santos debuts against Ilara Joanne (11-8) in the opening round of the 2024 PFL women’s flyweight season, where she’ll be competing for the PFL title and the $1 million prize that comes with it.

Ahead of such a big competition, Santos feels confident in her chances of going all the way.

“I feel like I’m one of the favorites entering the tournament,” Santos told MMA Junkie in Portuguese. “I already fought for the UFC title against Valentina (Shevchenko), and she’s a tough fighter, and before I fought her, she had big fights, and she’s a renowned athlete. I felt like that was an important fight and I felt I won it.

“So yeah, I feel like I’m one of the favorites and I come to this tournament with a big name.”

Santos took Valentina Shevchenko to the brink in a highly competitive UFC championship bout in 2022. Unfortunately for Santos, she lost a split decision, but many thought she did enough to get her hand raised.

Apart from the admirable showing against an all-time great, Santos had shining moments in the octagon, defeating veterans such as Roxanne Modafferi, Molly McCann, Gillian Robertson and Joanne Wood.

Santos doesn’t want to overlook any of her future opponents in the PFL, but her resume gives her confidence. She plans to take it step by step this season and not get ahead of herself.

“Fight by fight,” Santos said. “I’m focused on every objective and go step by step. Of course, the goal and mind are set on getting to the final, but you have to take it step by step.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for PFL 2024, Week 1.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie