PFL Media Day took place on April 20th ahead of their 2021 season kickoff this Friday, April 23rd. Lightweights and Featherweights are prominently featured and several of them addressed the media virtually.
Below are excerpts from my interactions with Natan Schulte, Sheymon Moraes, and Anthony Pettis.
PFL Media Day
With Schulte being the multiple tournament champion for PFL, there’ll be some great localized insight here. Is this the best lightweight tournament field that Natan has seen overall?
“Both 2018 and 19 were extremely challenging years. As far as the competition PFL brought in. But yeah, I mean this 2021 season brings bigger names. That’s probably the reason why people from afar see it as a more competitive year.”
With the backdrop of challenging Marlon Moraes for the WSOF bantamweight championship and PFL being in the same lineage here. Would there be a level of redemption to getting to the playoff finals and contending for gold in a second division (featherweight) with the promotion?
“Yeah, man. My dream is to become a world champion. When I started even in Muay Thai, the dream is to hold the belt and become a world champion. This is my plan to make this year.”
In UFC, the fight booking is generally a little more nebulous. It’s kind of like you have to wait on hearing whatever the next matchups are.
Whereas in PFL, much more defined structure with the season, when the playoffs take place, et cetera. Do you prefer that more defined kind of structure in the PFL here?
“Oh man, I feel so good. It’s been a long career of just wondering what’s next and quick weight cuts. I think the last two fights were on 17 days and 21 days notice. Whereas this is laid out for me, man. I literally just have to be a racecar. My team pours into me and I’ve got to perform.”
Anthony Pettis continued (PFL Media Day)
You were talking with Duke Roufus about just training a little bit differently. In a way that’s mindful of being injured less frequently (for this tournament format). It seems like less sparring is kind of part and parcel with that there.
Are there other alterations to your training methodology that are mindful of that as well?
“Nah, crazy thing is it’s not less sparring. It’s more selecting of my sparring. Early in my career, I was like anybody anywhere. This camp I was very selective, as far as who I was on the mat with. I haven’t felt this good in a fight for a long time. Injury-free, feeling amazing, weight’s on point. Yeah, so I think this approach made me reevaluate everything. Honestly, COVID did too.”
“When COVID hit, I had to decide who my training partners really were. I had to say who do I need on this mat? Who needs to be on the floor? Then we just continue that and now that I’m in this tournament format, it just makes sense, man. I think it’s weird to say but COVID was a blessing on my training.”