HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Raush Manfio completed a fairy tale season Wednesday to win $1 million and PFL’s 2021 lightweight title.
In four fights with the promotion, Manfio (15-3) never was a favorite. In the playoff final, he outworked Loik Radzhabov (15-4-1) for a unanimous decision in his biggest upset yet. Radzhabov was a 3-1 favorite.
Manfio made a big splash in June when he upset former UFC and WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, who was more than a 2-1 favorite against him. Wednesday, after Manfio’s win, Pettis said he was pulling for Manfio to win it all.
“Raush is good,” Pettis told MMA Junkie after the event. “I would say his kickboxing was amazing. I knew how to get past that kickboxing. But to see what he just did right now, based on what he needed – his family needed that s*it … I’m not a hater. To see someone make $1 million? I love it. It just makes me more motivated. I think he’s a great athlete, but that shows me where I’m at. I can win this $1 million tournament in the lightweight division for sure.”
Pettis had another reason for rooting interest in Manfio. He said a parlay wager on Manfio and Ray Cooper III, also an underdog, to win their Wednesday fights paid him more than $50,000.
Pettis signed with the PFL earlier this year after closing out his longtime UFC run with wins over Donald Cerrone and Alex Morono. But he dropped a decision to Clay Collard in his PFL debut in April, then lost to Manfio by split call two months later.
He said he learned some things from those losses, as well as the way PFL’s season format operates. He thinks he’ll be able to turn things around for the promotion’s 2022 season.
“I’m starting training camp ASAP,” Pettis said. “There’s no two-month training camp for this kind of series. You’ve got to fight back-to-back like that, you’ve got to start way earlier. I learned that the first time.”
Photos: Best of 2021 PFL Championship
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