Sometimes, being cut from the biggest promotion in the world is not so bad. In Antonio Carlos Junior’s opinion, his UFC release was the best thing to happen to his career in recent times. Especially after getting picked up by the Professional Fighters League, a company which ‘Shoeface’ believes to be more aligned with his own standards.
After dedicating almost seven years of his career to the Octagon, Antonio is not sad to turn the page. In an interview with Combate, the Brazilian explains that the way the UFC handled business did not really please him. In fact, Junior felt like it downright got in the way at times, which is why Shoeface feels more at home in the PFL.
“In a way, it was kind of liberating for me. The UFC has that policy, that trash talk thing. They like (to use) that a lot to sell fights. It’s very different from my style. It’s not like me. I get along with everyone. I don’t really have that trash talk thing inside of me. That policy limited my chances in the UFC in a way, because I can’t be like that.”
“I noticed that people were getting more opportunities in there because of that, because of their personalities outside of the cage.” Antonio said. “That was messing with my head, with my emotional side. It was not good for me. The UFC was really good for me for a while. I was good for them, too, but I don’t think that was the case anymore.”
Now a PFL fighter with a bout booked, Antonio feels much more comfortable. The way Junior sees it, the new promotion values the sport over the entertainment and the tournament format does not allow for trash talkers to cut the line for the best fights or opponents.
“Here, in the PFL, you move according to your performance. You win a fight, you go to the next one. You become the champion according to that. I like tournaments. I’ve always done well in tournaments. The Ultimate Fighter was like that. My jiu-jitsu championships, too. I think it fits better with my personality. Even before, when I was still with the UFC, I was already very fond of the PFL’s policy.
“There’s no trash talk. It’s much more about the sport than entertainment.” Junior continued. “Of course there’s an entertainment aspect, but it’s much more about the sport. I’m an athlete. I think that’s where I fit in. I’ve always liked the way they worked. I used to say that if I left the UFC, I would like to go to the PFL. My manager presented me some options and I said: ‘Man, I’d really like to go to the PFL, I think that’s where I fit in’.”.
Antonio Carlos Junior (10-5-1 NC) got released from the UFC after losing his last three outings, with defeats to Brad Tavares, Uriah Hall and Ian Heinisch. His latest win dates back to April 2018, when the 31-year-old picked up a submission win over Tim Boetsch. Overall, Shoeface left the promotion with a 7-5-1 NC record.
Now, Antonio Carlos Junior is expected to have his PFL debut on PFL 2, on April 29, in a quarter-final bout of the light heavyweight 2021’s season, against fellow UFC veteran Tom Lawlor. The card is scheduled to take place in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and to be headlined by a welterweight quarter-final bout between Rory MacDonald and Curtis Millender.