Former UFC heavyweight Yorgan De Castro has turned things around nicely since parting ways with the promotion, leading to a big chance at a million dollars starting at PFL 2 on April 7.
De Castro (9-3) has three straight wins, and has been training alongside Jon Jones of late, which has brought him to the heavyweight tournament with a potential million dollar payday waiting at the end.
Speaking to Cageside Press in a recent exclusive interview, “The Mad Titan” — and yes, he’s a big fan of Thanos, right down to having collectibles of the Marvel villain — addressed what has changed that has led to his newfound success.
“I think the mindset. I changed my mindset, the approach to the fight,” De Castro explained. “I know now, every time I step into the cage may be the last time, so I want to make sure I have fun, and it’s either do or die. My UFC career, I was too concerned with not losing, I was thinking it was a job, or I got comfortable. I ended up fighting to not lose, and I lost two fights by decision.”
“The last one, it is what it is, I got knocked out but I showed up to fight. But the two decision losses, I could do more. Those two decisions, they’re still haunting me. Now I don’t want to lose by decision any more. If I have to get knocked out, I will get it. Now my style changed, I’m going forward, and I’m fighting to win.”
During his UFC run, De Castro still had a day job. That changed about a year ago, and has been another factor in turning things around, De Castro believes.
“That’s another thing that I changed too. There was so much plan B. When I was [in the] UFC, I was still working in the school system, I still was doing different things,” he said. “It was, ‘if this doesn’t go right, I have always this thing.’ Now I don’t have it anymore. Now it’s like, I have to be successful at this. This is my life, if I don’t be successful, I don’t eat. Now, all I do is fight.”
His most recent fight saw Yorgan De Castro pick up a win over former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos — but it came with an asterisk: Dos Santos had injured himself in the fight. For a long time, De Castro himself considered that he really hadn’t won the JDS fight, but his thinking has since changed.
“At the end of the day, when two men sign a contract, we sign a contract that the one who walks out healthy is the winner. I did my job, I make weight, I show up, and I fight. I didn’t fight to not just lose, I fight to win. I was landing every punch and every kick, and he’s the one who got injured,” De Castro noted. “I don’t know where he got injured, that’s his problem, but he got injured punching me. So that’s a win. I was the healthy man, I was the one who walked out with my hand raised. And that’s a win.”
De Castro had been looking for another win against another champ in the main event of PFL 2, though that has since changed (more on that shortly). That’s the sort of fight he wants, coming into a new promotion — to fight that best. Though he would have said yes regardless.
“Man I tell people all the time, I don’t really say no to fights. I said yes to this fight within two seconds,” the heavyweight recalled. “My manager called me, said ‘we’ve got an opponent, April 7, Ante Delija.'” De Castro’s response was “who’s that?” When he was told it was the defending PFL champ, De Castro immediately agreed. “If you wanna go from one promotion to the other promotion, you should fight the best guy. Front door, fight the best guy, and I want to show that I’m not just here to be one more guy, I’m here to say. Love the fight, I love the match-up and I can’t wait to put on a show April 7.”
Unfortunately, shortly after Yorgan De Castro spoke with Cageside Press, Delija withdrew from the fight. De Castro is now paired up with Denis Goltsov instead.
The 35-yera old is training with the right people regardless — specifically Jon Jones. De Castro helped Jones prepare for the Ciryl Gane fight at UFC 285, and had high praise for the man many consider the GOAT.
“The man is, when it comes to MMA, he is the GOAT of MMA. His fight IQ is different. He works hard even with his Fight IQ,” De Castro stated. “Super strong, very smart. He’s very smart, and he has a lot to offer to this game. I just feel blessed to share the mat with him.”
Jones will be with De Castro in Vegas for PFL 2, with Yorgan heading Albuquerque afterwards to help “Bones” prepare for his next fight, which he let slip is in July. Not exactly a state secret, but that would likely be Jones vs. Stipe.
Watch our full interview with Yorgan De Castro above. “The Mad Titan” makes his promotional debut against Denis Goltsov at PFL 2 on April 7, 2023 in Las Vegas, NV.