Although his unanimous decision victory over Collard was controversial, Manfio (14-3 MMA, 3-0 PFL) continues on to the finals to face Loik Radzhabov for a chance at a huge payday. Not bad for a fighter who struggled to find fights on the regional scene and started this PFL season as an alternate.
“When I pray tonight, I have a lot of stuff to be thankful (for),” Manfio told MMA Junkie. “The last three years before I stepped in the PFL, I was trying to schedule fights and no one would fight me in the other small leagues and I was going to quit my career.”
Fellow lightweight competitor Olivier Aubin-Mercier was injured in April and had to pull out of his scheduled bout against Joilton Lutterbach. This opened the window for Manfio to fulfill his alternate role and enter the season. He would go on to defeat Lutterbach via split decision.
Two months later, Manfio found himself standing across the cage from former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis for his second fight of the season. Once again, Manfio edged out a victory via split decision to enter the playoffs, setting up a semifinal bout against Collard.
On Friday, in perhaps his toughest bout yet inside the PFL cage, Manfio did enough in the judges’ eyes to get his hand raised, despite the backlash from many, including Collard himself.
“Where I came from this year, seven, eight months ago cleaning offices at night to now this opportunity for $1 million dollars, (it’s) the best feeling in feeling in the world,” Manfio stated.
Watch the full post-fight interview with Manfio in the video above.