Nazareno Malegarie has competed for some of the top promotions in mixed martial arts throughout his 11-year career, but he’s never gotten as close to becoming a millionaire as he is now.
The former UFC and Bellator fighter currently holds the Pancrase featherweight championship, but was granted permission to compete in Professional Fighters League’s inaugrual season that kicks off Thursday night in New York.
Booked to face former Bellator champion Marcos Galvao at The Theater on July 7, Malegarie moved to Sao Paulo to do his camp for the first time at Demian Maia’s gym, Vila da Luta, and his focus rests solely on winning the tournament’s million-dollar check.
”I’m really excited with the promise of a lot of money in the tournament,” Malegarie told MMA Fighting. “I come from a humble family, so that would completely change my life. Not only my life, but my entire family’s.
”You have to think step-by-step. We have two fights first, but that would really change my life. That money would forever change your life in Brazil if you’re smart enough to invest it the right way.
”If everything goes right, I’ll be a millionaire on New Year’s Eve [laughs]. That’s my final goal.”
Having spent more than 10 years as a professional fighter and experienced what it is like to compete for promotions like UFC and Bellator, Malegarie just wants to fill his pockets instead of chasing that spot again.
”I’m 32 now, I’ve fought in Bellator, in the UFC through TUF, and just won the Pancrase belt in Japan,” Malegarie said. “So what matters for me now is money. Of course that money and success walk side-by-side, but what matters for me now is money, paying my bills and helping my family.”
Malegarie first has to defeat Galvao to earn a spot in the PFL eight-man tournament, and he believes that PFL’s structure — awarding extra points for finishes — will provide more excitement.
”Winning is the most important thing, but a stoppage gives you more points and pretty much guarantees you a spot in the tournament,” Malegarie said. “‘Loro’ (Galvao) is an experienced fighter, I can’t rush things against him, but that’s my goal.”
Galvao has only been knocked out once since 2010, however the Argentinian featherweight is confident he can stop Galvao too.
”We’re both compete fighters,” Malegarie said. “He’s aggressive standing and has a good game on the ground, but the fight starts standing and we will go to the ground eventually. I’m prepared to fight him at all areas. We’re two experienced fighters and it will be an interesting fight for the fans.”