Matheus Scheffel wasn’t planning on moving up to heavyweight yet, but some miscommunication led to “Buffa” being among the heaviest fighters for PFL’s fourth season, which continues on Thursday in Arlington, Texas.
Scheffel, who faces Season 3 tourney finalist Ante Delija, had fought at Dana White’s Contender Series at 205 pounds in August 2021, losing to Azamat Murzakanov in Las Vegas. His management team started negotiations with PFL, looking to sign him up for the following season. He had competed as a light heavyweight his entire career, but somehow, he joined the heavyweight bracket.
“My manager’s idea was to put me in the 205-pound division, but there was some confusion in the conversation with them, and the heavyweight spot was offered to us,” Scheffel said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I took it without thinking twice.”
Scheffel was asked to get a win first before signing with PFL, and he walked through Jose Rodrigo Guelke in under three minutes to improve to 15-7 in the sport ahead of his first PFL appearance.
“I felt so fast [at heavyweight],” Scheffel said. “I think that’s my advantage at heavyweight. I’m feeling way better now than I was for the Contender fight because we’re already in. We’re in the million-dollar [grand prix], the world’s biggest GP. New weight class, everything’s new. I’m extremely happy.”
Still working part-time as a personal trainer and martial arts teacher in Brazil, Scheffel will finally be able to live as a full-time MMA fighter if he wins the tournament and pockets the $1 million prize. Until then, he remains focused “on the fight and the belt, not the money.”
His first opponent inside the PFL cage is 2021 heavyweight runner-up Delija, a former RIZIN and KSW fighter who has only lost to two men in his past 13 bouts: Marcin Tybura and 2021 PFL heavyweight champion Bruno Cappelozza (twice).
“I wasn’t even in talks with PFL last year when I watched him fight Bruno and already imagined myself fighting him,” Scheffel said. “When I signed with PFL, I knew he would be my debut opponent. He’s tough, but it’s a good match-up for me. And by beating him, I’ll show what I’m here for. I believe I’m the underdog because I’m moving up a division, but I like to fight against the odds.”
“I think I’ll knock this guy out, man,” he continued. “He stands and trades but doesn’t have good timing on the feet. If he does that against me and my hands lands, he’s going down. He’s very tough and has a big heart, but he gets hit a lot.”