PFL 4: Antonio Carlos Junior Locks Up Playoff Spot with Decision Over Bruce Souto

Antonio Carlos Junior, PFL 4
Antonio Carlos Junior, PFL 4 at the Overtime Elite Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, Friday, June 17, 2022. (Cooper Neill / PFL)

The PFL’s 2021 light heavyweight champion Antonio Carlos Junior was in action Friday at PFL 4, looking to secure a spot in his second straight post-season.

“Shoeface” was paired up with Bruce Souto, a fight in which Carlos Junior was the heavy favorite.

Souto put up a good fight, but ultimately, the match-up turned out as expected.

Right off the opening bell, Souto let his intentions be known, firing multiple leg kicks at the champ. Carlos Junior would eventually take the fight to the ground, though he could not keep Souto there. Instead, they’d get back to the feet, with Carlos Junior in the driver’s seat, pressing his opponent into the fence while looking for a takedown.

A very interested onlooker for the fight, Delan Monte, was thrilled to see it go past two minutes, as that allowed him to secure a spot in the PFL 2022 post-season. It also eliminated Souto from contention, win or lose.

In the meantime, Souto was still carrying the weight of Carlos Junior, who eventually isolated a leg and essentially swung his opponent to the mat. Souto was right back up once again, and finally found some separation, with the pair moving back to center.

In the second, Souto again started things off by chewing up the leg out Antonio Carlos Junior. With the playoffs out of reach, Souto was fighting for pride more than anything else. He flashed some stance switches, and continued to work over the champ’s lead leg. But he was never close to finishing ACJ, nor was he able to do enough to get ahead on the scorecards. Carlos Junior would drag his opponent to the ground in the final two minutes, taking the back — though he couldn’t find the finish.

The third round saw more of the same, in a fight that was relatively close. They’d go to the final bell, with Carlos Junior claiming a unanimous decision win.

Antonio Carlos Junior will go on to face fellow UFC ex-pat and ATT teammate Omari Akhmedov in the semifinal round. From there, he’ll have the chance to move on to the million dollar final, with the possibility of repeating as champion.

Official Result: Antonio Carlos Junior def. Bruce Souto by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)