When Glaico Franca earned a shot at the Pancrase welterweight championship last year, he hoped winning the belt in Japan would be his ticket back in the UFC. A year later, Franca is now three wins away from pocketing $1 million if he’s victorious in the Professional Fighters League welterweight playoffs.
The prize fighter doesn’t allow that carrot dangling in front of him to become a distraction Instead, he uses it as motivation.
The 28-year-old Brazilian faces Portugal’s Andre Fialho in a two-round quarterfinal bout at Friday’s PFL 7 in Las Vegas. If victorious, Franca advances to meet the winner of John Howard vs. David Michaud later that night for a spot in the playoff final in December.
“I’m 100 percent ready to go after those two wins in the playoff, but I’m only thinking about the first fight right now,” Franca told MMA Fighting. “I won’t have the second fight if I don’t win the first, so let’s go step by step here.”
“People talk about Fialho’s boxing, but he also has a good ground game,” he continued. “He’s very dangerous and I respect him. He deserves to be in this tournament, but when the cage closes and it’s just the two of us in there, I’m ready for everything.”
This is not the first time Franca has competed in a one-night MMA tournament. He did it once as an amateur and again after turning pro, and then on TUF Brazil in a quasi-one-night-tournament. Franca said he learned patience through those experiences.
“I’ve had highs and lows in my career, so I’ve learned to be more calm as I deal with everything,” he said. “People talk about the million dollars in the final, but I won’t get there if I don’t win my next one. This whole tournament, the check, this big PFL event, that only happens if I win.”
Franca joined the UFC after winning the fourth season of TUF Brazil in 2015. But he parted ways with the promotion after dropping decisions to James Vick and Gregor Gillespie. Undefeated in eight bouts since moving up to welterweight, Franca initially hoped to re-enter the UFC after capturing the Pancrase title in Japan.
He still wants that, but agrees that PFL’s system allows him to earn a life-changing pay way quicker.
“It’s hard to fight five times in six months in the UFC, and it takes a long time for you to earn a million there as well,” Franca said. “It might happen, but it takes at least three years before you get to that stage. PFL is better financially, for sure, but we know that MMA is not only about money. I’m happy at PFL. I was happy when I got to the UFC, too, and I don’t rule out going back there one day. Financially speaking, it was better to come to PFL. Maybe in the future, winning the PFL belt, I can go back to the UFC.”
“I’ve fought many tough guys in the UFC,” he continued. “I didn’t perform well against Vick and Gillespie, but I wasn’t the athlete I am now. A company will let you go if you don’t perform well, (and) I understand that. I was a bit upset at the time, but that was good for me. I’ve evolved as an athlete. I fought eight times, went to Japan and then back to the United States. What drives me now is becoming the best 170-pounder in the world. Wherever I am, I’ll always do my best.”