EXCLUSIVE: Aussie who made MMA history by winning $1.5million in the Professional Fighters League opens up on learning from his old foe Israel Adesanya – and breaking a metal plate in his hand when he was drunk
- Aussie Rob Wilkinson won $1.5m in 2022
- MMA star plans to be best in the world
- Wilkinson fights on Sunday April 2
Rob Wilkinson, who made history last year by becoming the first Aussie to win a PFL World Championship title, has opened up about his plans for 2023 and desire to be the best light heavyweight on the planet.
Wilkinson, 31, had a brief spell in the UFC as a middleweight, which ended when he was defeated by future champion Israel Adesanya in 2018.
Since then the Tasmanian has moved to America to train and remodelled himself as a light heavyweight – and the results speak for themselves.
‘Razor’ hasn’t lost a fight in his new weight class and earned himself a cool $1.5 million last year by winning the Professional Fighters League light heavyweight title.
‘It was unreal. Winning a world title has always been one of my goals,’ Wilkinson told Daily Mail Australia.
Wilkinson (pictured delivering a punch) made a cool $1.5million for winning the Professional Fighters League last year – dwarfing what many UFC fighters make for their bouts
Wilkinson, 31, had a brief spell in the UFC as a middleweight which ended when he was defeated by future champion Israel Adesanya in 2018
‘Making that money has made a huge difference. It makes everything a bit easier for me over here in America.
‘I went on a holiday afterwards with my girlfriend and then got back and got myself a Porsche.’
Wilkinson credits training with Adesanaya after his loss in the UFC as part of the reason why he is now having such huge success.
‘His coach actually called me up to see if I’d like to go down and train with him to help him prepare. I took that opportunity to train for about a month. I learned a lot.
‘One thing that stays in my head is that they told me they turned down the UFC for a number of years until Izzy was ready to go straight to the top. And that’s exactly what he did.
‘When I signed for the UFC, I was ready for it, but not ready to be fighting against the top. That stuck with me.
‘I’m just getting started and coming into my prime now.’
Wilkinson loves training in MMA, but he admits it’s taken a toll on his body over the years.
Wilkinson credits training with Adesanaya after his loss in the UFC as part of the reason why he is now having such huge success
The Aussie next fights former UFC title challenger Thiago Santos on April 1 when the new season of the PFL begins
‘I went through a phase where I kept breaking my hand. I broke it in a fight and got a plate put in it. Then I broke it again. Then after it healed I broke another bone in the hand,’ he said.
‘Then when that healed I somehow broke the plate. I think I did it drunk while mucking around with friends.
‘I ended up having surgery on my hand four times in two years. It got annoying.’
The Aussie next fights former UFC title challenger Thiago Santos on April 1 when the new season of the PFL begins.
Santos famously lost by the narrowest of margins to superstar Jon Jones in 2019, and Wilkinson says he’s looking forward to the challenge.
‘He’s obviously a really big name. The fight really excites me. I want to be recognised as the best light heavyweight in the world, so I need to be fighting these top guys.
‘I think I will either put him away early or maybe a late submission.’
You can catch all the action in the Professional Fighters League on Stan Sport.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk