Natan Schulte is one of the Brazilians in the $1 million Professional Fighters League race.
He faces former Ultimate Fighting Championship contender Chris Wade on Thursday in the first round of the lightweight regular season, which is decorated with top-class mixed martial artists Luiz Buscape, Thiago Tavares, Will Brooks, Brian Foster and Ramsey Nijem. A favorite of the category, Russian Rashid Magomedov suffered an injury and was replaced by another big show veteran in Efrain Escudero.
"There are several athletes in the format, and those coming from the UFC are the favorites. But favoritism does not win a fight. I'll train and win one fight at a time. In fact, I'm one of the least known in the division, but I'll do it anyway," said the 26-year-old prospect.
Considering each fight as the final, Schulte prefers not to think about the prize money, but rather the title on the line. In addition to believing that this mindset takes away the pressure, he also confesses that he still has no idea what he can do with the gigantic payoff at the end.
"Actually, I'm thinking of one fight at a time, every fight is going to be a war. I go through a fight and then I move on to another, without thinking about the $1-million prize. It's a prize that will definitely change the life of anyone, but I'm not thinking about it now. I'm focusing on the fights. In fact, it ends up being a lot more money if you convert it to Real. It will be around 3 million realis... it's a lot of money; it changes your life totally, it turns your life upside down. Suddenly you're champion and you have $1 million. But first, I have to win and reach the final round. I want to be there and be the champion. And I'm going to be the champion. I believe in myself, I'm confident."
As a child, Schulte planned to be a professional designer, but fate diverted his way into fighting. Targeting his childhood bullies, he took muay Thai to learn how to defend himself. A fan of Pride Fighting Championships and Brazilian mixed martial arts greats Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera and Wanderlei Silva, he started to train jiu-jitsu and judo with the intention to become a mixed martial artist. Today, he still finds time for drawing as a hobby.
Always willing to help his teammates at American Top Team, he meets the requests of the coaches to do sparring with those who have fights scheduled. Recently, he helped prepare the controversial Colby Covington for his duel against Rafael dos Anjos. Although he does not identify with his training partner’s statements, he does not condemn the style of promotion of the American, who today is considered the main rival of the Brazilian fighters in the UFC.
"Actually, he always treated me well, he always greeted me, he was never a disrespectful guy at the gym. I think what he did was like a way to get to the belt. I do not condemn it. Of course it is my country, but in fact he showed up, he faced Rafael Dos Anjos and won. He was never mean to me, he greeted me, he thanked me… what he did was just to get to the belt, and he succeeded; he is the interim champion. Whatever Conan (Silveira) asks me, anything to help (my teammates), I am always willing."