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2021 PFL champion Antonio Carlos Junior eyes return by end of 2023 after Big Brother Brasil run

Antonio Carlos Junior
Cooper Neill, PFL

RIO DE JANEIRO — One-time PFL light heavyweight champion Antonio Carlos Junior wants to get back to action later this year.

“Cara de Sapato,” who was part of this year’s season of Big Brother Brasil for two months beware leaving over an alleged sexual harassment, hasn’t fought in MMA since a knee injury forced him out of the 2022 season.

The investigation over the alleged harassment case is still ongoing, but Junior is fully focused on his recovery.

“I’m super happy to be back to training,” he said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I missed this so much. I was trying my best to continue my rehabilitation [on the show]. My physical therapist and coach told me, ‘OK, you’re going [to Big Brother Brasil], but you have to work there a little bit, so you’re not back to square one when you leave.’”

Junior (15-5, 2 no-contest) is undefeated since leaving the UFC to join PFL in 2021, putting an end to a three-fight skid with victories over the likes of Emiliano Sordi, Tom Lawlor and Delan Monte.

“I volunteered to PFL to fight later this year, maybe in the year-end card,” Junior said. The 2023 PFL Championship card is set to take place Dec. 8 in Dublin, Ireland. “I told my manager Ali [Abdelaziz] to inform them I’ll be ready to represent Brazil in the PFL.”

The company is expected to hold its first-ever pay-per-view card in 2023, with a date and location yet to be determined. That was news to “Cara de Sapato,” who stayed in the Big Brother Brasil house for two months and said “that could be an option” depending on the date.

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