Don Madge wants to make a statement early in the 2022 PFL season.
On Wednesday, Madge (10-3-1) takes on the 2021 PFL lightweight champion Raush Manfio in the co-main event at Esports Arena in Arlington, Texas. Given the format of the PFL season, someone has to face the previous year’s champion at the first event, and Madge fully welcomes the challenge.
“I wanted to face Raush first,” Madge said at Monday’s pre-fight media day. “I wanted to get the champion out of the way first and test myself against the guys who have already been through it and already accomplished what I’m trying to accomplish. To be the only South African on the card and represent my country is a huge deal to me.”
Following his exit from the UFC after two fights and two victories, Madge debuted in the opening bout of the 2021 PFL Championship, where he defeated Nathan Williams via second-round submission. This year, he’s a part of the lightweight tournament and has plans on competing on the championship card this year, but this time for the title and the big prize of $1 million.
Manfio (15-3) entered all four of his 2021 season bouts as an underdog, which made for an incredible story of overcoming the odds. However, this season, things have changed after winning the championship, and now Madge will have an opportunity to create an early-season upset by taking out last year’s champion.
“I always come in with an underdog mentality anyway,” Madge said. “I wanted to face the champion first because he’s the guy that’s done it already, he’s already climbed the mountain, and I want to take his spot on the top of that mountain. Odds and stuff, and statistics, that’s all on paper. Fights aren’t won on paper. I don’t really pay too much attention to that and I’m just gonna get in there and do my thing. I believe I will win, and I will be the champion this year.”