It feels like a rare day when the UFC is more interested in signing a fighter than the fighter is in signing with the UFC, but that seems to be where Shane Burgos found himself recently. The featherweight action fighter and fan-favorite talent just wrapped up an 11-fight stint with the world’s largest MMA promotion, fighting out the final bout on his contract with a victory over Charles Jourdain at UFC Long Island: Ortega vs. Rodriguez.
“I love being a UFC fighter,” Burgos said of entering free agency in early August,” but it doesn’t make sense for me to not ‘test the waters.’ But we’ll see what they come back with. It would be negligent of me and disrespectful to my family to not even hear other numbers, and I would love to hear some other numbers.”
It seems the numbers Burgos heard must have been pretty nice, since the featherweight just announced his move to the PFL roster. ‘Hurricane’ Shane announced the decision on a recent interview with the MMA Hour (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“It was not an easy decision,” Burgos admitted, speaking of leaving the UFC. “It was an offer—I couldn’t turn it up. I’ve got two daughters; I’ve got to go back home, I’ve got to look at them in the face when it’s all said and done in this sport. With this deal I feel like that will secure that. Not taking anything away from my UFC career. Eleven fights in the UFC, that was a dream when I was 14 years old. I saw it for the first time on TV when I was 12 and was like, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ When I was 14 I made the decision, I started training at 15, and the UFC gave me the platform to be able to be in this position right now and then secure the deal that I just secured with the PFL. [Sean Shelby, Dana White, Hunter Campbell, Mick Maynard], all the guys at the UFC, I can’t thank you guys enough.”
Even with the amicable nature of the split, it’s somewhat surprising news given Dana White’s recent comments on Burgos following the Tiger Schulmann fighter’s victory over Charles Jourdain back in July. When asked about the 31-year-old’s upcoming free agency, the UFC president sounded fairly adamant that they would be signing him to a new deal.
“Yeah, we would definitely re-up him,” White responeded, when asked about Burgos’ contract status. “He’s a savage.”
“Shane?” he added, when asked if the UFC liked having Burgos on New York cards. “You can put Shane in fucking Timbuktu and people are going to be happy to have him on the card. He’s the kind of guy that people love to see fight.”
According to Burgos, however, the PFL offer was so good, that the UFC simply couldn’t match it. While he didn’t put an exact number to the deal, he did say that he’ll walk away a “multi-millionaire” if everything goes to plan and he wins the organization’s next season and the $1 million prize that comes with it.
“Last time [I negotiated with the PFL] it was relatively close,” Burgos explained, speaking of his previous stint of free agency with the UFC, after defeating Makwan Amirkhani in 2019. “That’s why I was like, ‘It’s not that big of a difference.’
It was a bigger difference [this time]. It was a six-figure difference back then—what I was going to get paid from the PFL—and I turned that down to stay with the UFC. Now, it’s obviously bigger than that.”
“When it’s all said and done after the first season—obviously, I plan on winning—I’ll be a multi-millionaire.”
Past PFL seasons have typically started in April, and in 2022, featured a set of preseason ‘Challenger’ events. No word yet on just when Burgos expects to make his debut, or against who, but it seems likely fans can expect to see him back in action sometime in the spring of 2023—under a whole new banner on ESPN.