Raush Manfio’s talents made him a millionaire.
The Brazilian entered his life-altering 2021 campaign as just another name on the Professional Fighters League’s lightweight roster and emerged as the organization’s last man standing at 155 pounds. Manfio made the most of his opportunities. He filled in for an injured Olivier Aubin-Mercier on short notice at PFL 1 on April 23, went 2-0 during the regular season and completed his unlikely climb to the top with tournament victories over Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Clay Collard in the semifinals and Loik Radzhabov in the final. Manfio’s run culminated with a seven-figure payday.
As the mixed martial arts community awaits word on Manfio’s next move, here are five things you might not know about him:
1. He chose his inner circle wisely.
Manfio operates out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, where he sharpens his skills alongside a host of world-class trainers and stablemates, including Mike Thomas Brown, Marcus Silveira, Dustin Poirier, Amanda Nunes and fellow PFL champion Antonio Carlos Jr., among others.
2. Durability provides him with an additional layer of security.
“Cavalo de Guerra” has suffered three defeats as a professional mixed martial artist, and in all three, he bent but did not break. He lost a unanimous decision to Fernando dos Santos at Watch Out Combat Show 29 on Sept. 20, 2013, dropped a unanimous verdict to Matt Frevola at Titan Fighting Championship 43 on Jan. 21, 2017 and lost a unanimous decision to Sidney Outlaw at Titan Fighting Championship 50 on June 29, 2018.
3. His championship pedigree took shape on the regional scene.
Manfio captured the Titan Fighting Championship lightweight crown when he punched out Chazz Walton in the first round of their Titan 46 co-main event on Nov. 17, 2017. He went on to defend the title in a subsequent appearance against Lee Henry Hilly, then relinquished it in his aforementioned loss to Outlaw before linking arms with the PFL.
4. He channels his inner Han Solo.
The American Top Team standout was an underdog in all four of his PFL fights in 2021, as Manfio rattled off upset victories over Joilton Lutterbach (-275), Anthony Pettis (-240) and Clay Collard (-200) before besting Radzhabov (-300) in the 155-pound final. Asteroid fields, be damned.
5. The UFC missed its chance to sign him.
Manfio appeared on Season 4 of “The Ultimate Fighter Brazil” in 2015 but had the unfortunate luck of running into Glaico Franca in his first assignment. Franco eliminated him with a second-round rear-naked choke, then proceeded to submit Nikolas Motta, Joaquim Silva and Fernando Bruno in succession to win the lightweight competition.
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