Las Vegas — Defending PFL lightweight champion Olivier Aubin-Mercier kicked off his 2023 season with a key win against incoming free agent signing Shane Burgos on Friday night.
Burgos was arguably the biggest off-season pick-up for the league, who also signed UFC vets Thiago Santos and Marlon Moraes. All three, however, dropped their regular season debuts, with Burgos losing via decision at The Theater at Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas at PFL 3.
Speaking with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek, Aubin-Mercier (18-5) addressed the subject of the PFL’s current crops of champs beating those free agents. “I want to apologize from everybody, from [Brendan] Loughnane, from Razor [Rob Wilkinson], and for myself, to beat all the UFC guys, the big signings. So sorry PFL, I know you paid a lot of money for those three guys, and we killed them. I’m sorry.”
More honestly, OAM is proud of the performances he and his fellow champs have put on this month.
“Hell yeah I feel better, we did our job. All the champs won, all the champs beat the big signings. So it’s great for us. We proved that we’re still here,” Aubin-Mercier exclaimed. “We are motivated; I don’t want to say anything, but I do think Shane was the most dangerous of the three. He’s still young, he still has the fire in him, and he’s a fan favorite. Unfortunately I kind of cancelled his game plan, but I’m really proud of this win. It’s probably one of the biggest wins of my career if you think about it.”
The win was not without some adversity. At the very end of the third and final round, Burgos managed to create some space an unleash a wild flurry on the Canadian. An inadvertent clash of heads resulted.
“At the end actually, he let me go a little bit and I had to grapple. He actually headbutted me, he went berserk, that was kind of scary actually,” Aubin-Mercier recalled. “Yeah, he headbutted me, big cut, he was going really crazy and I just saw some blood, I’m like ‘oh my god, I’m bleeding!’ First time I’ve seen that.”
To fans who were displeased when Aubin-Mercier shifted from striking to grappling following the opening round against Burgos, the champ had a simple message.
“They’re not in my shoes. Well, I don’t have shoes when I fight, but they’re not in my foot I guess. Yeah, no I don’t care. Like who cares? They knew I’m a complete fighter. I think I did really well on the feet, I think I won the first round on the feet. But why take that many chances against a dangerous guy like this?”
Watch the full 2023 PFL 3 post-fight press scrum with Olivier Aubin-Mercier above.