Fort Lauderdale, FL — Former UFC standout Antonio Carlos Junior (12-5, 2NC) has made his way to the PFL championship final in his first season with the league.
It’s been quite the journey getting here, he told media outlets including Cageside Press this week, ahead of his light heavyweight championship bout with Marthin Hamlet on Wednesday.
“The last two years and a half was a tough moment in my life. My personal life. I had a lot of injuries, three surgeries, was hard to recover, coming back to train, to perform at a high level,” he explained. “And I had three losses. One of those losses, I don’t think I lost, against Uriah Hall, it was a pretty close fight, a split decision.”
Then he learned he was out of the UFC. “It was pretty hard time. I almost thought about giving up, opening a school and doing other things— always involved with fighting for sure. But I got this chance to get in the PFL, I always liked the PFL system. Even when I was in the UFC, I looked at the PFL and I loved how it is. You win the fight, you go to the next one, you make the points, you go to the playoffs, then you win, then you go to the finals, then you know when you’re going to fight for the belt.”
That happens in every sport, noted Carlos Junior, “and that’s how it’s happening here. I love it.” Having those set goals and schedule gives him more energy, he added, and gave him the motivation to get better, train harder. Getting six points in his first fight in the PFL, against Tom Lawlor, “it made me even more confident to go to the playoffs and go to the finals. And here I am.”
Carlos Junior has come a long way since he won The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 tournament at heavyweight as a 3-0 fighter. After his formative years were spent under the UFC banner, the 31-year old says he feels free now. “I feel like everything is fair. There is no cutting the line or whatever. You just fight, make the points, if you deserve, [from] making the points, you go to the playoffs, you go to the finals, that’s it.”
Watch the full PFL 2021 World Championship media day appearance from Antonio Carlos Junior above. More coverage can be found below. The event takes place this Wednesday, October 27, 2021, in Hollywood, FL.