Arlington, TX — PFL 1 saw returning light heavyweight champion Antonio Carlos Junior secure another quick finish, submitting Delan Monte in under 30 seconds.
The d’arce choke submission earned Junior (14-5, 2NC) six points towards this year’s post-season. And while confident in himself, he entered the fight with a lot of unknowns regarding his opponent.
“You know, I couldn’t study a lot about him because he doesn’t have a lot of footage on the internet. But I knew I had more experience,” Junior told media outlets including Cageside Press following the fight, at the ESports Stadium in Arlington. “He would be maybe a little excited and stuff, first time in a big event and stuff. I believe in myself. I saw what I was doing at the gym, the hard work I was doing at the gym, and everything was working out perfectly. I knew we could do it. My coaches told me that, and I just believed in it.”
Junior didn’t actually see the punch he’d thrown, that dropped Monte, land, because he was already shooting for a takedown. “When I saw he was falling, I said ‘oh wow, get the punch, get it.’ I tried to throw some punches to finish the fight, but then I saw the d’arce, and just [went] for it.” Junior knew it was really tight. “I’m not letting go, just keeping [it] here, squeezing more and trying to get the submission.”
With one victory secured, it’s on to the second fight of the season, and with six points, the Brazilian is in a good spot to once again make the playoffs. With that in mind, he doesn’t care who he faces next. “I need to face the best ones to get to the belt again. I don’t care who I’m going to face. I just need to be ready, as I was today, to [do] a good job and get this belt once again.”
It’s been oft noted over the past year now that Antonio Carlos Junior looks like a completely different fighter compared to his UFC days. He recognizes this fact as well, and it boils down to his weight cut.
“Yes, I know. Some things changed in my life, especially my mind, and about the body, it was the weight cut. I think the weight cut, that was killing me,” he explained. “I used to cut like 35 pounds, and I think this was too much. Especially for me, I’m a grappler, so I kind of lose the power.”
At 185, Junior said he had to make sure his first round was his best, “because I was getting tired too fast. I talked to the doctors; even if I stayed in the UFC at the time, I would have moved up to 205.” Junior spoke with Thiago Santos, another Brazilian fighter who moved from middleweight to light heavyweight, about the move as well. “We talked about that, he was feeling a lot better at 205, I feel the same. 205 is my division. The guys are stronger, sure, power, but I don’t waste my energy during the weight cut.”
Watch the full PFL 1 2022 post-fight scrum with Antonio Carlos Junior above. More coverage from the event can be found below.