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Former UFC title challenger Taila Santos is confident heading into the $1 million PFL tournament: “I’m one of the favorites”

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Taila Santos is eager to start a new chapter in her MMA career as she believes she can end up being both a champion and a millionaire.

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 will make her debut against Ilara Joanne (11-8) in the opening round of the 2024 PFL women's flyweight season, where she will fight for the PFL title and the $1 million in prize money that comes with it.

Facing such a big competition, Santos is confident that she will make it to the finish line.

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

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

Santos pushed Valentina Shevchenko to the brink in a hard-fought UFC championship fight in 2022. Unfortunately for Santos, she lost a split decision, but many felt she had done enough to get her hand raised.

Aside from the admirable performance against a great, Santos had moments of brilliance in the octagon, defeating veterans such as Roxanne Modafferi, Molly McCann, Gillian Robertson and Joanne Wood.

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

“Fight by fight,” Santos said. “I focus on each goal and take it step by step. Of course the goal and desire is to get to the final, but you have to take it step by step.”

For more information on the card, check out MMA Junkie's PFL 2024 Week 1 event hub.

The story originally appeared on MMA Junkie