2023 PFL 4: Chris Wade Sees “Opportunity in the Fire” Against Ryoji Kudo

It’s been a while since the Professional Fighters League made it out to Chris Wade’s neck of the woods, and the PFL 4 featherweight most definitely misses those days.

“I miss them so much. It was amazing to compete so close to home, to have all my people there, to drive to my fight. It was an experience that I’ll never forget,” Wade (22-9) told Cageside Press in a recent interview, asked about the 2018 and 2019 east coast trips the promotion made. “I thought we’d come back around over here, be a little closer, come back to the island but it’s been a few years since we have.”

Instead of Long Island or even Atlantic City, the PFL will be back in Atlanta, Georgia at the Overtime Elite Arena early next month, with the 2023 PFL 4 card kicking off the second half of the league’s regular season. Wade is matched up with Ryoji Kudo, who was a virtual unknown until he knocked out Alejandro Flores to make the post season last year.

“I’m expecting more of the same. More of what we saw in that fight with Flores,” Wade said regarding his match-up with the Japanese featherweight. “He’s the kind of guy that, for him to be successful, he’s got to come forward, he’s got to blitz you, and he’s got to try to finish you with that right hand or that left hook. He’s not really the fanciest fighter, but he’s a tough, tough dude and he’s going to swing. He knows he needs points, he knows he needs to swing, and I expect him to try to do so.”

“With that being said, there’s opportunity in the fire. So for me, I’m looking at it like, he’s got to take a bunch of risks as well and he’s going to be leaving himself open plenty of times to also be hurt.”

While Kudo needs points to make it to the playoffs, so does Chris Wade himself. “The Long Island Killer” has made it to at least the semifinals in every single PFL season, and in 2021 went to the featherweight final. This year, however, he’s on the bubble.

“When you get put in this situation, you say ‘unfortunately’ but it is what it is. It’s the reality,” said Wade, who plans on a fast start against Kudo with an eye on scoring six points. “We both have to go in there and look for bonus points. The game plan does have to be structured around that. I have to be ready and prepared to sprint right out of the gate. I’m looking at this fight as a five minute fight. it’s a one-round, five minute fight with a couple five minute extensions attached to it.”

And so Wade will “be prepared to step on that gas pedal for the entire first five minutes. And if he survives it somehow, just leave nothing left of him so that hopefully you can put it away in the second right away.”

In his first fight of 2023, Wade dropped a unanimous decision to rival Bubba Jenkins, evening their career series at 1-1. It was an off night, with the fighter beset with issues outside the cage leading into the bout. But what fans see, of course, is only the end result, not the work that goes into a fight.

“Everything is magnified in fighting. Fighting is the hardest thing to do in the world. I wrestled, and I can even tell you, everyone’s like ‘wrestling is the toughest thing you could do.’ No, it isn’t,” Wade observed. “Wrestling is tough, but even in wrestling, if you had that bad tournament, if you had that bad match, if your personal life has effected that for whatever reason, two or three weeks later, you can easily get it right at a different tournament and you can avenge that loss a lot of times immediately. In the fight game, you get to compete quarterly at best, and a lot of times you never even get to cross that same athlete again. They just think they have your number for the rest of time after that.”

It’s a similar situation with the fans as well, added Wade. “It almost becomes this case of ‘well, sucks for them’ because it’s so long in between that they don’t care to even think about that.” A pitcher in baseball going through “sh*t at home” can get absolutely shelled and give up seven runs, and everybody forgets quickly, noted Wade. “In fighting, they always remember until you get back in there and you prove them wrong.”

Watch our full interview with 2023 PFL 4’s Chris Wade above. Wade faces Ryoji Kudo at the event at the Overtime Elite Arena in Atlanta, GA.