MMA star Raush Manfio almost retired to work as a cleaner and coach before winning the PFL’s $1 million winner take-all season

MMA champion Raush Manfio almost retired to become a coach and work as a cleaner before entering the 2021 PFL season.

And after rolling the dice one last time, Manfio won big as he messed up the odds of winning the $1 million cash prize.

Raush Manfio won the PFL's 2021 lightweight season


Raush Manfio won the PFL’s 2021 lightweight seasonPhoto credit: Professional Fighters League
Raush Manfio won the $1 million cash prize


Raush Manfio won the $1 million cash prizePhoto credit: Professional Fighters League

The Brazilian won four fights on the spin to take home the lightweight belt and life-changing check.

But it could have been so different for Manfio – who at one point was ready to retire from his fighting career.

He said MMA Junkie: “I called my manager Brian Butler and ended my career.

“I prepared myself to not find any more fights for myself. I gave private lessons to some students.

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“I was doing really well and had another job cleaning offices at night.

“I thought God didn’t want that from my career because I pulled out nine fights and signed three or four and the other fights I replaced their injured guys.

“But when the opponents saw me, they didn’t want to fight me.

“So it’s been three years of opponents not wanting to fight me and I was ready to quit.”

Manfio, 30, only entered the PFL season, which consists of a knockout format, after Olivier Aubin Mercier, 33, retired injured.

But he seized the opportunity with both hands – literally – and the rest is history.

Manfio said: “As a Christian, I always think: ‘What does God want from me?’

“And because of the difficulties, I thought God didn’t want this for my life. I have to pay my bills and provide for my family.

“Following that call to my manager he asked me for another month and within that month he brought me into the PFL because Canadian Olivier Aubin Mercier was injured and they needed someone to replace him.

“My manager was at the right time and place to speak to Ray Sefo (PFL President of Combat Operations) because I was beginning to think I couldn’t do it anymore.

“He told Ray I really needed the opportunity and I was good but no one wanted to play me in the minor leagues.

“So he gave me the chance and now you know the rest of the story. I quit and now look where I am.”

The PFL is the only league format of MMA that consists of regular season and playoffs.

Fighters in eight different weight classes compete in the two-fight regular season as they battle for a place in the playoffs.

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That consists of a two-round quarter-finals and a three-round semi-finals on a night where the winner advances to the championship finals.

Last year Manfio beat Anthony Pettis, clay cabbageand Loik Radzhabov to win the 2021 PFL lightweight season.

This year he returns to attempt the double, starting his season with a fight against South African Don Madge tomorrow night in Texas.

Rausch Manfio during the 2021 PFL season


Rausch Manfio during the 2021 PFL season MMA star Raush Manfio almost retired to work as a cleaner and coach before winning the PFL’s $1 million winner take-all season


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