Judging by earlier reports and his presence at Thursday’s Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix press conference, it looked like Jorge Santiago was leaning towards signing with Strikeforce, but apparently that wasn’t the case. ESPN.com reported earlier today that Santiago has signed a multi-fight deal to return to the Octagon, starting with UFC 130.

UFC president Dana White confirmed to ESPN.com that the American Top Team fighter has agreed to a multi-fight deal with the UFC and is expected to make his return to the promotion at UFC 130 on May 28 in Las Vegas. His opponent has not yet been determined.

Santiago is 11-1 dating back to 2007. Dana White didn’t provide any quotes for the report, but I have to imagine Santiago would be “in the mix.” At the very least, he’s a nice addition to a strong middleweight division that features the likes of Anderson Silva, Yushin Okami, Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen, Nate Marquardt, Wanderlei Silva and others. There are plenty of options for tremendous match-ups involving the now former Sengoku middleweight champ.

Image via Sherdog

Update: The off and on fight between Brian Stann and Wanderlei Silva appears to be off again. MMA Junkie is reporting that newly signed Jorge Santiago is in talks to face Brian Stann at UFC 130.

Sources close to the organization today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) the two middleweight are expected to fight at UFC 130.

Stann initially was slated to Wanderlei Silva (33-10-1 MMA 3-5 UFC) at the May 28 event, though Silva repeatedly has voiced a preference not to fight the fan favorite and military hero.

Currently, bout agreements have not been signed. Additionally, Santiago’s agent, Malki Kawa of Authentic Sports Management, said he couldn’t confirm the fight or even if the veteran officially has signed with the UFC. Stann’s rep also declined to comment.

Does this mean Wanderlei Silva vs. Vitor Belfort II is on deck?

Update 2: Despite reports to the contrary, Jorge Santiago says he hasn’t signed with the UFC.

Santiago told MMA Fighting that he had not yet signed a contract with any promotion, but that he hoped to finalize a deal very soon. Santiago did confirm ongoing talks with the UFC.

Several MMA sites have reported that Santiago has agreed to a deal and will fight Brian Stann at UFC 130 in May, but he insisted that he has yet to ink his name to any contract.

“Maybe tomorrow,” he said with a smile.