Antonio Carlos Junior enters the 2022 PFL season full of momentum.
The veteran fighter kicks off the new season having won the light heavyweight title and $1 million prize the year before in 2021. In his PFL debut season, Junior (13-5) went unbeaten three fights before submitting Marthin Hamlet with a rear-naked choke in the championship final back in October.
It was a big moment for Junior’s career, as he bounced back from a three-fight losing streak to become the champion of a major organization. But apart from the sporting accolades, it was also a big year for Junior financially.
“It was great,” Junior told MMA Junkie at Monday’s 2022 PFL 1 media day. “I didn’t change much, just the numbers got a little bigger on the bank account.”
On top of his regular fight purse earned for his four PFL bouts in 2021, Junior pocketed the $1 million prize awarded to the champions at the end of the season.
The Brazilian says he doubled what he made in his seven-year career with the UFC in just one year fighting for the PFL.
“Yeah this was crazy,” Junior said. “I think I made in UFC what I paid in taxes this year. The thing is that I had the contract from ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ and it was 10 fights, so it was a lot. That’s what happened to me, you know. I didn’t have a great manager at the time to help me out with this. This cost me a lot of money.”
Junior won season three of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ back in 2014. The victory punched his ticket into the UFC and kicked off a seven-year run with the promotion. He left the company in early 2021. Junior shared the octagon with many notable names such as Marvin Vettori, Uriah Hall, Brad Tavares, Tim Boetsch, and others.
Junior kicks off his second PFL season on Wednesday, as he takes on Delan Monte on the main card of 2022 PFL 1 in Arlington, Texas. The 32-year-old is eager to get started and take a crack at another title and $1 million prize.
“What a good feeling to come here with the belt, as a champion – it’s awesome,” Junior said. “I look forward to getting started. I’ve been training since the final, since I got the belt. I’ve been training a lot in different camps trying to improve my game and different aspects. I’m looking forward to the first fight.”