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Michael Dufort did not wait long to make waves in the Professional Fighters League lightweight division.

The 30-year-old Canadian vaulted to the top of the 2024 regular-season standings in a spectacular promotional debut, as he disposed of former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Mads Burnell with a guillotine choke in the second round of their encounter in April. While Dufort entered the cage as a substantial underdog, the success he enjoyed was not unexpected. Years of training alongside two-time PFL lightweight champion Olivier Aubin-Mercier at H20 MMA taught him belonged.

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“I know what I worked on,” Dufort told Sherdog.com. “I trained with Olivier so long, so many times. I know he was pretty much the PFL king, and I know I can train with Olivier and not get injured. If you can do it, you can win it. Right now, I’m not surprised to be number one. My style is pretty much perfect for the PFL format. I’m a finisher, and that’s what I do best.”

The next hurdle for Dufort takes the form of Bellator MMA mainstay Adam Piccolotti, as their lightweight clash helps buoy the PFL 5 undercard this Friday at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. Piccolotti operates out of the famed American Kickboxing Academy camp but steps back into the spotlight with his back firmly against the wall. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt was victimized by an Elvin Espinoza flying knee in his first PFL assignment two months ago.

“I expect him to want to take the fight to the ground,” Dufort said. “He has a very good ground game, but the thing is, I can surprise him from everywhere. My BJJ is something you cannot expect, so that’s how I plan on beating him: unexpected things.”

Dufort split his camp between H20 MMA in Canada and the Kill Cliff Fight Club in Deerfield Beach, Florida, where he satisfied his need to get out of his “comfort zone.” He welcomed the input and expertise of world-class coaches like Henri Hooft and Greg Jones.

“There’s so much talent, so many good fighters, so many different styles,” Dufort said. “That’s pretty much how I prepared for Piccolotti. You never know what to expect in a fight, so why should you know what to expect in training camp? That’s why I’m here. I want that little stress every training, to not know what’s going to happen.”

A victory over Piccolotti would likely put “The Canadian Badass” in position to qualify for the PFL playoffs and a shot at a life-altering seven-figure payday. Dufort recognizes the fortuitous situation in which he finds himself.

“For sure it’s a motivation,” he said. “Money is good. Honestly, I’ve never made money for fighting. Right now is the first time I get an OK purse, so it’s a little motivation. Honestly, I put so much on my shoulders. I want to win it for myself, and I want to win it to show the people how good I am.”
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