Antonio Carlos Junior: PFL Tournament Tougher with Addition of Bellator

Las Vegas, NV — Former PFL light heavyweight champ and UFC alum Antonio Carlos Junior (15-5, 2NC), a.k.a. “Shoeface,” ends an extended layoff this Friday at the PFL 2 card, kicking off his 2024 regular season.

Last we saw Carlos Junior, he had won back-to-back fights in the 2022 season, after winning it all in 2021. But ACJ then fell to an ACL injury, which sidelined him for the rest of the year, and all of 2023.

“Man I miss that so much. I miss the feeling of this Fight Week, a fight coming up. I miss that so much,” he told Cageside Press in an exclusive interview ahead of his bout with Simon Biyong this Friday. “Almost two years out. It’s so good to be back man. So good to be back. I can’t describe it to be honest.”

Since “Shoeface” has been away, the PFL has changed dramatically. They’ve acquired Bellator MMA, and brought in many of its fighters for this year’s season. There’s also returning champs like Rob Wilkinson and ACJ himself in the mix.

“It’s even harder now. I think light heavyweight is one of the hardest divisions at the moment,” the Brazilian stated. “A lot of former champions, a lot of new guys looking for the gold. I think it’s going to be crazy. It’s going to be crazy, and a bigger challenge.”

Antonio Carlos Junior also gave us his thoughts on Friday’s main event, featuring Impa Kasanganay against Alex Polizzi.

“I think Impa’s a great fighter, that’s why he won the tournament last year. I don’t really know about Polizzi, but after this mixing of Bellator and PFL, I think things became even more challenging. Looking forward to seeing it to be honest. My fight’s going to be first on the main card, after that I’m going to take a shower and try to watch the other fights.”

Watch our full interview with 2024 PFL 2’s Antonio Carlos Junior above.