Las Vegas — Former two-time PFL lightweight champ Natan Schulte is looking to return to the finals, and got things off on the right foot by claiming a decision win against UFC vet Stevie Ray at the 2023 PFL 3 card on Friday.
Ray, a finalist last year, put up a tough fight, and while his style didn’t take Brazil’s Schulte by surprise, the Scottish fighter’s toughness might have.
“He’s a great fighter, he’s a very good fighter. I’m not surprised about his style, but he’s really tough, you know?” Schulte (24-5-1) told media outlets including Cageside Press following the bout. “I was trying to finish this fight every time. But yeah, the decision is— I won this fight. I’m happy.”
Earlier in the night, Olivier Aubin-Mercier, last year’s lightweight champ, selected Schulte as the next biggest danger in the weight class besides himself. “For sure. I fought against him last season, and the decision was split,” Natan Schulte noted. “I’m happy to be here.”
Schulte won it all in 2018 and 2019, the first two years the Professional Fighters League hosted the season format. But after 2020 was cancelled due to COVID, Schulte stumbled in 2021 and 2022.
Moving forward, “my focus now is, go to the playoffs. The last two seasons, I cannot go into the playoffs, but this season, I made a wish,” Schulte revealed. “To win this next fight, it doesn’t matter. The first or second round. I want to finish, and go to the playoffs, go to the championship.”
Asked whether he had changed anything between seasons, “yes, I [spoke] to my coach [about] putting a lot of pressure on,” Schulte replied. “And I put a lot of pressure on in the first round. Between the first and second rounds, I was a little tired, but I did my best. I can fight more, two, three, four rounds.”
That wasn’t the only modification made between seasons. “I changed something about cutting my weight. I was cutting weight very well; one day before, checked the weight on the scale, and today I was really, really good.”
Watch the full 2023 PFL 3 post-fight media scrum with Natan Schulte above.