Antonio Carlos Junior didn’t think he was fighting for his job at UFC 257.
Carlos Junior was making his return to the Octagon after over a year away against Brad Tavares. In the fight, the Brazilian was looking to get the fight to the ground but Tavares managed to keep the contest on the feet and outstrike him to win a decision. After the fight, it was revealed Carlos Junior was released which caught him by surprise.
“I knew it was a chance but I didn’t think so,” Carlos Junior said on Just Scrap Radio on BJPENN.com. “I thought they would make me fight out my last fight because I had one fight left on my contract. It is what it is, but to be honest with you, I’m even happier now.”
After he was released from the UFC, Antonio Carlos Junior told his manager he was interested in signing with PFL. He also would have to move up to light heavyweight as the promotion doesn’t have a middleweight division.
Although Carlos Junior had been competing at middleweight, he says he was cutting 35lbs to make the weight so he’s eager to move up to 205lbs.
“I was talking to Ali, my manager, and I told him my interest in PFL,” Carlos Junior said. “I like the system, there are no politics, no trash talk, it is more my style. I told Ali the PFL season will work pretty well for me and I will get what I deserve. In jiu-jitsu, it’s you win and you move on, same as here.”
In his PFL debut, Antonio Carlos Junior will face Tom Lawlor on April 29. Although “Shoeface” will have to face everyone, he is eager to fight another UFC veteran in his debut.
“I love the fight. To be the champion, you need to beat everyone and Tom Lawlor is a tough guy. I have watched a bunch of his fights but he hasn’t fought in a long time,” Carlos Junior said. “That is a good thing for me as it favors me. I will try and watch his last fights, but we know he will try and fight the same way he normally does. Just figure out his movements and weaknesses.”
In the fight, Carlos Junior is well aware he will have the grappling advantage over Lawlor. However, he does want to show off his standup, but admits he will try and get the UFC veteran down and submit him.
“I will strike a little bit and take him down when I see the chance to do it,” Carlos Junior explained. “I’m not going to force it, but if I see the chance I will and work my jiu-jitsu which is my best weapon and try and get the submission. If not, I will keep striking and win the fight that way.”
Ultimately, although Antonio Carlos Junior is excited to fight Tom Lawlor, his main goal is winning the tournament and winning a million dollars.
“That is good, everyone likes a million dollars right. I hope I can make it to the finals and get this million dollars. That is why I am working hard,” Carlos Junior explained. “I’m truly happy to sign with PFL and do what I love.”
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