It took four fights in less than six months for Philipe Lins to be crowned the heavyweight champion of the Professional Fighters League’s inaugural season in 2018 and earn a million dollars in the process. With his pockets full of cash, the Brazilian felt comfortable to pursue his dream next.
Lins was scheduled to return to the PFL cage in 2019 and go after a second belt — and another seven-figure payday —, but injuries to his hand, elbow and ankle prevented him from competing during last year’s season. Finally healed, the American Top Team product decided to test the market after his contract with the league ended in December.
“The PFL prize allowed me to fulfil every athlete’s dream and make a living off of MMA,” Lins told MMA Fighting. “I had the chance to achieve that, and now I can make good decisions instead of decisions based only on money.”
Staying with the PFL would mean a shorter path to a second fat check, but sharing the eight-sided cage with the elite of the sport in the UFC was too good to pass up.
“PFL gave me that feedback and allowed me to make a decision to go to the UFC if I had a good contract with the UFC,” Lins said. “Of course, I’ll have to do more fights in the UFC to win a million dollars again, but that’s a dream for me. I’m 34 and I had to make a decision. This is the right moment to go to the UFC and face the new challenges I have in front of me.”
Lins’ octagon debut goes down Wednesday night in Jacksonville, Fla., opposite MMA pioneer and former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski. “The Pitbull” is a veteran of the game with almost 50 professional bouts, but only had his hands raised in three of his last 13 fights.
“I’m fighting a former champion, a legend who faced big names, so it’s an honor for me to fight against him,” Lins said. “New goals, a new career path for me, so let’s work hard.”
Aside from his first two MMA bouts in regional shows in Brazil, “Monstro” fought his entire career as a light heavyweight. Released from Bellator after a 3-3 run in the company, Lins didn’t think twice when fellow fighter Ronny Markes reached out offering a spot on the PFL’s heavyweight list in 2018.
Lins gained a few pounds “of muscle mass” since his last bout, a fourth-round knockout win over Josh Copeland in Dec. 2018, and vows to impress in his first appearance under the bright lights of the UFC.
“I have to respect him,” Lins said of “The Pitbull” Arlovski. “He’s not in the prime of his career but he’s still dangerous. My coaches and I set a great strategy to fight him. Keep moving, and I know my hand will land and he will feel it. Arlovski likes the stand-up game and so do I, so I believe it’s going to be a great fight. I love putting on exciting fights and it won’t be different this time. I always go for the finish. That’s my style, my instinct, and it will be a great fight for MMA and UFC fans.”
The UFC newcomer is 4-0 since moving up full-time to heavyweight with three knockouts and one submission. At UFC Jacksonville, Lins guarantees “my hand will eventually land and I’ll get the knockout.”
“I worked really hard on my jiu-jitsu and wrestling at American Top Team so I’ll submit him if he makes a mistake,” he added. “I love finishing fights.”