After dominating the competition two straight years, multi-time PFL lightweight champ (and multimillionaire) Natan Schulte returns to action Friday night.
Schulte (20-3-1) faces Marcin Held in the first Professional Fighters League event since 2019, this year’s PFL 1. Held is a UFC and Bellator MMA veteran with a wealth of tournament experience, and he predicted an early submission against the defending champ.
“He’s a fighter with tremendous experience on the ground,” Schulte replied during this week’s PFL 1 media day. “The same way he’s going to try to implement his game and submit me, I’m going to keep moving forward and attempt to submit him, or knock him out in the first round.”
With the PFL taking 2020 off due to the coronavirus pandemic, Schulte has had plenty of down time. “It was a great year to work on my fundamentals and fine-tune my game, and not necessarily have to worry about fights,” he told Cageside Press.
Now, the champ returns to a very different lightweight division, including names like Held, and former UFC/WEC champion Anthony Pettis. Pettis has been looked upon as the favorite to win the division, despite Schulte’s presence.
Schulte appreciates that Pettis raises the division’s profile, making it look even better. But he doesn’t see Pettis as the favorite. “He might be the biggest name in the weight class, but I don’t see him as the toughest fight,’ said Schulte, who is gunning for a fight with Pettis regardless. “A fight and a win over him is something I look forward to, it’s going to make my resume look even better.”
Watch the full PFL 1 media day interview with Natan Schulte above. The event takes place Friday, April 23 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and airs live on ESPN2 and ESPN+.