The grass has never looked greener to Antonio Carlos Jr.
The 31-year-old Brazilian will enter his 2022 campaign with plenty of promise and a renewed sense of purpose as the defending Professional Fighters League light heavyweight champion. Carlos joined the PFL after a hot-and-cold run in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and rode his considerable talents all the way to a $1 million payday. He cashed in at the 2021 PFL Championships on Oct. 27, when he submitted Marthin Hamlet with a rear-naked choke in the first round of their tournament final at 205 pounds.
As Carlos awaits word from the PFL regarding his next move, here are five things you might not know about him:
1. He took the baptism-by-fire route.
Carlos made his professional debut at the age of 23 on July 20, 2013 and had only three appearances under his belt—all submission victories—when he was cast on Season 3 of “The Ultimate Fighter Brazil” less than a year later. He went on to win the heavyweight tournament, as he laid claim to a unanimous decision over Vitor Miranda in the final.
2. He recognizes his strengths.
A multiple-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion, “Cara de Sapato” holds the rank of black belt in the discipline under Helder Medeiros. Carlos’ skills have translated seamlessly to MMA, where he has secured 10 of his 13 wins by submission. Of those 10 victories, nine have resulted from some form of choke: six rear-naked chokes, two arm-triangle chokes and one guillotine choke.
3. Durability serves as an endearing trait.
Four of Carlos’ five career defeats have come by decision. The lone outlier? A third-round technical knockout loss to four-time Olympian Daniel Kelley at UFC Fight Night 85 on March 19, 2016.
4. Serious adversity failed to deter him.
The American Top Team export was released by the UFC in February 2021 following consecutive losses to Ian Heinisch, Uriah Hall and Brad Tavares. Carlos signed a free-agent contract with the Professional Fighters League a little more than a month later and has not lost since, going 3-0 with one no contest through four appearances with the organization.
5. He has proven he can float between divisions.
Carlos has posted wins in three different weight classes as a mixed martial artist: middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight. He weighed in at 212 pounds for his UFC debut at “The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3” Finale in May 2014.