Now boasting a 26-fight career with wins on some of MMA’s biggest stages, Chris Wade comes full circle on Oct. 27.
The Rockville Centre, New York native feels that his spot in the PFL 2021 featherweight finals is “meant to be” and perfectly encapsulates his legacy after making an early career appearance on World Series of Fighting 2 – the promotion which eventually rebranded as his current fighting home.
“It hasn’t really hit me yet because like you said, all those moments – I had my UFC debut [that] I got all amped up for,” Wade told MyMMANews of this big career moment. “I had my first PFL Playoff tournament that I got all amped up for and I’ve learned that the highs never stay too high and the lows never stay too low to always stay even keel and work hard and to stay focused. That mindset is what’s got me here and in the final. So I’m just locked in, I’m all business right now until the 27th and I’m ready to just kill somebody.”
Coincidentally, the kill or be killed attitude is just what the 20-6 Wade will need to channel for his grandest opportunity yet.
Standing across from the 34-year old will be Movlid “Killer” Khaybulaev who has yet to be officially defeated in MMA competition after 20 outings (18-0-1, 1 NC). Recognizing the talent his opposition possesses, there’s no taking Khayubulaev lightly.
Wade has even found inspiration in the drive that his opponent and their fellow countrymen have.
“He’s some competitor,” Wade said of Kaybulaev. “He’s so composed, he comes from [training with Khabib Nurmagomedov]. They’re just all so damn tough and they’re all so committed to the sport. They don’t do a lot of extracurricular where they’re messing around and you can say, ‘This guy’s not focused.’ They’re all business.
“I actually take a lot from that camp. There’s a lot of things you can learn to become a better fighter from those guys. But with that being said, I truly believe that I’m more athletic, I’m a bigger fighter, I’m coming down from lightweight. I have fought his teammates who are some of the best in the world. I fought Islam [Makhachev] tooth and nail, went back and forth in the UFC. And I think we’ve both grown since then so I think that I have the upper hand in this fight even though Vegas doesn’t.”
Chris Wade has had a unique experience in the MMA world, to say the least.
Touching down in the aforementioned WSOF in only his fifth career bout, Wade suffered his first career defeat and went on to enjoy a run in the UFC at lightweight.
The proud Long Islander rattled off an impressive four-fight winning streak before hitting his first pair of roadblocks. Rebounding in a rematch against Frankie Perez, Wade then departed the promotion off a victory and a 5-2 record in the octagon – a rarer situation than most.
Leading him to the PFL, Chris Wade continued to find success as he reached the semifinals of the first two PFL seasons. In each instance, fighters were required to win two fights in one night to make it to the finals. For Wade, the second of the two would be his undoing in each venture.
“I don’t think MMA fighters should fight twice in one night in a short span,” he said. “It’s just your hormones, the adrenaline, dumping the adrenaline, trying to get back up. But with that being said, what I’ve learned about this is that I can beat people that have these big accomplishments, these big accolades. Like with Bubba [Jenkins] in the last fight, it’s just about self-belief. I’m really talented, I’m athletic, and it’s just time to seal the deal here.
“Coming off the [last UFC] win I had a huge chip on my shoulder because I never really got proof in my mind that I didn’t belong there or anything like that. It was just more of… I think politics and fight style. I wasn’t – and am still not – happy with overall fighter pay stuff, the sponsorship issues that were going on, and I was a little bit vocal. I think that hurt me along with the fact that I’m a wrestler.”
The past is the past and all that can be done is to learn from it and move forth – a million dollars isn’t the worst reward for the trials and tribulations.
Opportunities as such are few and far between for many a fighter in the MMA world. Some of the all-time greats never even sniffed a one million dollar payout for their best efforts. All the “Long Island Killer” has to do now is get past Russia’s “Killer”.
“I thought about briefly what will be next and what will I do… First thing that comes to mind is to run it back and try to become one of the first few people to be a two-timer,” Wade said. “At what weight class? I don’t know, we’ll see. Maybe I can be the first one to grab a belt at a couple different weight classes. So things have swirled through my mind but the focus is on Movlid. The focus is on taking that belt to Long Island.”
Drake is an MMA writer based out of Brush Prairie, Washington, USA who specializes in feature pieces, the women’s fight scene, lists, news coverage, and rankings. He has been a passionate fan of MMA ever since 2009. Drake has most notably written for BJPenn.com, FanSided, The Body Lock, South China Morning Post, MyMMANews, WhatCulture, Cageside Press, Sherdog, The Scrap, and MMA Today. He has also written for and created video content for RT Sport. As for other sports, Drake is a longtime fan of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars.
You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @DrakeRiggs_ . Also check out all of his video content on YouTube at YouTube.com/DrakeRiggs where he uploads fighter interviews, podshows, and various other types of content.