There’s an argument to be made that Jesus Pinedo is already a winner heading into the 2023 PFL Championship. But for Peru’s Pinedo himself, that’s anything but the case, despite a breakout season that saw him defeat 2022 featherweight champ Brendan Loughnane in stunning fashion.
“I don’t feel I’ll be the champion until I get that belt wrapped around my waist,” Pinedo (22-6-1) told Cageside Press in a recent exclusive interview. “That’s when the job’s complete, when I’m hoisting the check and I’m getting the belt and I’m a world champion.”
Competing on the regional scene in South America for years, Pinedo built up a solid record, but knew he was ready for bigger things. On a bigger stage.
“I was content with my performances and where I was at with my career, but I knew that I needed to take that next step with the big leagues, and that’s where my management team reached out to the PFL, and they got that deal done. Now I’m here, and I’m ready to show the world.”
Asked whether there was any concern his might not get the opportunity to jump to the big leagues, Pinedo said simply “I knew sooner or later I was going to get the call, so I was never really worried.”
Come the PFL Championship on November 24 in Washington, D.C., Jesus Pinedo will face Gabriel Braga — a rematch of this year’s season-opener, which Braga won via split decision. Asked who has grown more, Pinedo suggested the opportunities for growth in such a short span were limited.
“We both had the same amount of time since that first fight to get here,” he pointed out. “It’s really limited in your technical abilities, of how much you can grow. You’ll get a little bit better, but overall I think what’s going to play a difference going into the second fight is the mentality. I’m stronger mentally than him.”
The added time since the semifinal round, however, has been a boon for Jesus Pinedo. He’s heading into the PFL Championship fully healed and healthy.
“The extra time has really helped with recovery. I’m coming into this fight without any injuries, without anything holding me back. So I know I’m going to be a perfect fighter come November 24.”