Professional Fighters League (PFL) dropped the hammer on lightweights Natan Schulte and Raush Manfio after the two training partners failed to turn in a measurable effort in their matchup Friday night at PFL 6 live on ESPN+ from inside Overtime Elite Arena in Atlanta, Georgia (results HERE).
It seemed odd to have Schulte and Manfio fight each other with a spot in the $1 million PFL lightweight playoffs on the line, but that’s exactly what the promotion did. The two close friends and current training partners did not fight like they usually do. It was a glorified sparring session and a lightweight fight that had the combat community buzzing for all the wrong reasons.
Schulte eventually defeated Manfio via unanimous decision to claim the final spot in PFL’s lightweight playoffs, but everybody who watched the fight felt as if they were bamboozled. It also wasn’t fair to fellow lightweight contender, Shane Burgos, who won a unanimous decision on Friday night only to see his playoff spot go to Schulte.
On Saturday, PFL took action and released an official statement on the incident. In the end, Schulte and Manfio have been suspended for the remainder of the season and Schulte’s lightweight playoff spot will now go to Burgos.
Read the official statement below:
Last Night Natan Schulte and Raush Manfio did not meet the standards which all PFL fighters agree to uphold in competition.
All fighters in their PFL Fight Agreements agree to use their “best efforts ... skills and abilities as a professional athlete to compete ... and defeat any opponent.”
It was very clear that Natan and Raush did not meet that contractual standard in yesterday’s bout.
PFL immediately suspended both fighters from the season and deemed the fight to have 0 points for purposes of League standings.
PFL takes this action in recognition of its responsibility to all PFL fighters and all PFL fans.
As noted, Schulte vs. Manfio sparked much discussion around the MMA community. This included 2022 PFL lightweight champion, Olivier Aubin-Mercier, who scored a knockout finish in Friday’s main event. The former UFC contender believes the fight between the two training partners looked “weird.”
“It was really weird,” Aubin-Mercier said (via BestFightPicks). “I have to be very clear. I understand 100 percent if I was going to fight my best friend. … It would be a fight like this. But at the same time, it’s unfair to anybody else. I think it showed PFL. When I said I wanted PFL to be better, I think it showed maybe we shouldn’t put two people of the same gym in the same category. This stuff can happen.”
Burgos, who will now compete in PFL’s lightweight playoffs for a chance to win $1 million, reacted to the news early Saturday. Check it out below:
“Just landed back home. Just got the news,” said Burgos. “I’m in the f—king playoffs, New York. I’m f—king coming. The stars are aligned. Everything happens for a reason.”
What do you think? Did PFL do the right thing in suspending Schulte and Manfio?