PFL Champion considered retiring to work as a cleaner before winning $1million prize

MMA can be a very unforgiving sport.

As if it wasn’t hard enough on the body – there’s also no safety net and the payment structure is pretty bare. Bellator and PFL are at the forefront as organizations that actually reward the athletes adequately.

The winner of PFL’s “winner takes all” season, Raush Manfio has just earned the incredible purse of one million dollars for his tournament victory.

Despite being MMA’s newest millionaire, Manfio has struggled with money throughout his lengthy career. So much so, that the he even thought about retiring and getting a regular job.

During an interview with MMAJunkie, Raush Manfio shared:

“I called my manager Brian Butler and I was quitting my career,” Manfio said. “I was preparing to try to stop finding fights for me. I was doing private classes with some students. I was doing really good and I had another job cleaning offices at night.

“I thought God didn’t want this from my career because I got nine fights canceled and three or four I got the contract signed and the other fights I replaced their guys who got hurt. But when the opponents saw me, they don’t want to fight me. So it was like three years of opponents that didn’t want to fight me and I was ready to quit.”


“As a Christian, I always think, ‘What does God want from me?’ and because of the difficulties I thought God didn’t want this for my life,” Manfio said. “I need to pay my bills and provide to my family. After that call to my manager, he asked me for one more month, and within that one month, he got me in the PFL because the Canadian guy Olivier Aubin Mercier got hurt and they needed someone to replace.

“My manager was in the right time and the right place to talk to Ray Sefo (PFL president of fighter operations) because I was already thinking I can’t do this anymore. He told Ray I really needed the opportunity and I was good, but no one wanted to fight me in the small leagues. So he gave me the chance and now you know the rest of the story. I was quitting and now look where I am.”

Manfio stepped into the PFL cage against the former UFC champion Anthony Pettis and was able to pull out the split decision victory. Later the underdog went on to beat Clay Collard, and Loik Radzhabov to win the 2021 PFL lightweight season.

This true rocky-like turn of events is certainly inspiring. Manfio now hopes to become an elite-ranked renowned lightweight.

“My story inspired not only Brazilians but a lot of people like Anthony Pettis,” Manfio said. “Who am I in front of him? He’s got a whole history. … I’m very proud. I always knew I had the level because I trained with guys that already fought him, but you need to prove yourself. And after talking to him and fighting him I finally got in the level that I always wanted to be and I will stay here for a long time I’m prepared.”