Latest PFL 1 news, Rob Wilkinson vs Thiago Santos, exclusive interview, how to watch in Australia

The signature mustache and laid-back Tasmanian attitude remain, but Rob Wilkinson has indulged in a luxury after winning $1.5million as Australia’s first PFL world champion last year.

I bought myself a Porsche Macan,” the man known as ‘Razor’ told Wide World of Sports ahead of the 2023 season opener on Sunday.

“It was a little fun for me and it felt weird for the first week or so, driving a Porsche. I was very nervous about someone hitting it or something. But, yeah , it was good.”

Watch all the action from the 2023 Professional Fighters League, featuring Australian champion Rob Wilkinson. Free, live and on-demand streaming advertising on Stan Sport

Light heavyweight Wilkinson earned the huge payday by demolishing Russian Omari Akhmedov at New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden in November, ending a season unbeaten.

He now lives in Denver with his girlfriend Paris but aside from the new wheels, “my life is pretty much the same.”

“Obviously it’s good to have some money in the bank account and not stress about it,” Wilkinson said.

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Razor’s post-fight interview

“A few more interviews and media stuff. It was nice to come home to Hobart this summer and a few people recognized me on the street or came over to congratulate me.

“But other than that, I just feel like the same old me.”

The 31-year-old credits his 2018 loss to Israel Adesanya – which led to his release from the UFC – as the wake-up call he needed to launch his career.

He was a man possessed last year and, ahead of Sunday’s PFL 1 clash with Thiago Santos in Las Vegas, he now sees himself as a ‘complete fighter’.

“My goal is to be recognized as the best in the world,” Wilkinson said.

“Obviously some people think the UFC is better than the PFL or rank UFC fighters higher than other promotions.

The Tasmanian makes his way to $1.5million

“But we’ve seen time and time again that there are top guys in all promotions. And right now I’m one of the most dominant light heavyweights. I’ve had all the finishes since I moved up to light heavyweight. I plan on having a dominant year with another world title. And then I think I’ll really start to get that recognition that I think I deserve.”

Rather than resting on his laurels, Wilkinson used the Australian summer to redefine his goals, including some that “should scare you”.

He was once considered a grappling specialist but worked on his striking last year and got all his knockouts off his feet.

“So I feel like I’ve shown that, but I have more. This year, I really want to mix those two skills. I don’t just want to punch. I don’t just want to wrestle. I really want to mix them up and show that I’m a very complete fighter.”

His first fight against Brazilian veteran Santos, scheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday AEST, was crucial in setting that standard for the 2023 season.

“He was a top 10 guy when he left the UFC, so beating him and making a statement against him will really show that I’m the guy to beat,” Wilkinson said.

“I want everyone not to want to fight me. I want whoever catches me next to be upset that they have me.”

Wilkinson said he’s not the type of fighter who harbors hatred towards an opponent, but thrives on competition and the science behind elite MMA.

“I do a lot of visualization work. It’s a hard feeling to describe, but I’m very fired up and focused on what I’m going to do. I just surround myself with this energy that I’m kind of invincible.”

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