After a split decision win at PFL 5 on Thursday in Long Island, Thiago Tavares is thrilled to be back in the win column, plans to take the next round of the PFL season “step by step.”
Uniondale, NY — Thiago Tavares got back in the win column on Thursday at PFL 5 for the first time in over a year. A veteran of the UFC who’s fought some of the best in the game, including Khabib Nurmagomedov, Brian Ortega, and Clay Guida, Tavares is a tough customer. And while he took some time off from fighting lately, he certainly did not take time off from training. That showed in his three round decision win over Arthur Estrázulas, a somewhat surprising split decision given the first two rounds were pretty clearly in favor of the Tavares. We caught up with the Brazilian lightweight backstage, where he told us about how it felt to get the win, and what’s to come for him.
“It feels so good,” Tavares said of being back in the win column in Long Island. “I stayed two years just studying, no fight.” And even when he was ready to get back into the fight game, there was his PFL 2 fight that ended in a TKO loss via groin kick, a weird quirk allowed under the Illinois Athletic Commission.
Still, at PFL 5, Tavares got the result he was looking for. “Now I can fight good, I can fight three rounds, I’m feeling so good about this. It was a really hard war. I like fights like this.”
“I try, all times, to submit the guy. Knock him out. Sometimes, somebody kicks my a*s too. But I give it my best. It was a big war, he’s a really good guy. He kicks so hard.”
The lightwegiht did admit to being perplexed that one judge saw it the other way. “I won the first round and the second for sure. When [we] finished the third round, I think maybe, they can give 10-8 for him in the third round, and it will be a draw,” Tavares said. “Maybe you can do that.”
Tavares admitted that while he wasn’t knocked down in the third, Estrázulas “controlled, really controlled the fight in that round. But, the first and second round I won for sure. It’s impossible to give that to him. When they say split decision I say ‘no, what happened?’ But I won anyway. For me it doesn’t matter if it’s split or what. I just want to win.”
The win money will help Tavares pay for his University bills, and of course, next up is the PFL playoffs. Right now, the Brazilian is hanging on to the final playoff spot. Should he go through, while it won’t be Tavares’ first time fighting twice in one night, “now it’s high level. It’s the best fighters in the world.”
And it will be a process. “Again, it will be step by step,” he told us. “First of all, I’ll think about my first opponent. After [winning against] my first opponent, I will think about my next opponent. You cannot think about ‘oh, I need to [win] fast, to take my next fight.” Rather, “it’s one by one. You are my problem now.”
Catch our full post-fight interview with Thiago Tavares above!