23/04/2024

New PFL signing Aaron Blackie is ready to make an immeidate impact when he makes his debut in March. Photo: aaron_blackie/Instagram

Aaron Blackie is embracing the PFL format and is ready to bring his aggressive, fast finishing style to his promotional debut in March.

Having begun his professional mixed martial arts journey in mid 2014, Australian Aaron Blackie (8-2) has taken the next step in his career, announcing last week that he has signed with American MMA promotion the Professional Fighters League (PFL) to be part of their 2022 Featherweight roster.

Blackie has spent his career fighting for local promotions such as XFC, Coastal Combat and Eternal MMA, amassing a record of eight wins all by stoppage and two losses.

Through his management team, Ginnen Group, the opportunity arose to apply to be part of PFL and their 145 pound roster in 2022.

“They were looking for any Australians that were interested and then they basically had an application process where you submitted your record, a bit about yourself and why you want to be part of the promotion,” Blackie told The Inner Sanctum.

“We went through the process and then that led to them making an offer.”

The format of the PFL works differently to many other mainstream promotions. In their league structure, fighters compete twice in a regular season. The top ranked fighters in each division then move onto the playoff elimination bracket.

Ultimately, two fighters will make their way to the championship fight. The winners of this bout is then crowned the PFL World Champion of their respective weight class and earn a million dollar prize.

Blackie, who is sent to make his debut in March against an unknown opponent, will not gain automatic entry into the league structure however. Rather, he will compete for an opportunity to prove himself to the PFL’s matchmakers.

“It is performance dependent, so it is a case by case basis. The matchmakers get to make the calls, so they look at you and I guess each weight class is different. The fighters they have in each weight class are different and the number of fighters they are looking for in each weight class are different, so there are no guarantees in terms of how that goes,” he said.

“I believe contractually I will fight multiple times regardless of whether I am in the league or not. They have opportunities to fill the cards outside of the league.”

The PFL’s regular season uses a unique point scoring system, where a win earns a fighter three points. Additional points are then awarded based on the round that a fighter scores a stoppage victory in. The earlier the finish, the greater the reward.

With Blackie’s exciting fighting style, which has resulted in seven first-round finishes, the PFL system is advantageous for him.

“I think the reality is if you perform well, you finish fights. You win fights, then you are rewarded for that a lot more than I the outward persona. It makes it more about the skill of the fighters than the popularity of the fighters,” Blackie told.

“In those two guaranteed round matches, if you finish one fight in the first round you will be tied with someone who wins both matches by decision, in which case PFL can make a decision on who goes through to the semis.

“You definitely want to be someone who finishes fights in the PFL structure.”

The pure essence of the PFL not being as much about name value, but rather about skills and ability to win fights in an exciting fashion is something that the Queensland native values about the promotion.

“I come from traditional martial arts and it’s a tournament structure, so everyone fights and the best guy wins and everyone is like okay we fought he won, he was the best,” explained Blackie.

“You see people avoid stylistic matchups, people go through the rigmarole of if a high-profile fighter is injured, for instance in the UFC, then you can’t get a fight with them for a year regardless. So there goes your opportunity of making some good money whereas in the PFL the show goes on.

“There is going to be someone who gets to take home the million dollars each year and that is done in the time span of a year, which is something that you can’t get to in any other structure.”

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While Blackie admits that moving to the PFL to get the opportunity to fight some of the higher profile names in the PFL’s Featherweight division such as 2021 World Champion Movlid Khaybulaev, Lance Palmer and Brendan Loughnane is exciting, it is not something he can afford to think about with the uncertainty of matchups he faces

“There is not much you can do in the PFL structure except for win and move through and fight the other guys that are winning. You get your two fights in the round which again, you don’t choose who any of those are and then it is dependent on everyone else’s results,” Blackie said.

“It really is one of those things you can’t focus too much on, who the others are, because you are not really going after someone. There’s not a guy with a belt that gets to defend the belt, but they are back in the league playing the rounds to get themselves back into those semi-final, final positions.”

The chance to sign with a big overseas promotion has been a long time coming for Blackie, who by the time he makes his promotional debut in March will have marked three years out of the cage. While he did confess that he got the itch to take another fight here in Australia, waiting for the opportunity was a necessary step for the stage he has reached in his career.

“At what point do you say, ‘I’m not fighting in pubs in Australia for two grand anymore, I want something overseas’ and I think if you get a record that is good enough to sign with an overseas promotion, then you are silly not to be patient and wait,” he said.

“In terms of prizefighting, you are really not doing yourself any favours fighting in Australia for an extended period of time because you are breaking your body down and taking damage.

“I think you get to a point where you are like, ‘yep my records good enough, I’ve performed well enough.’

“My last fight I got three knockdowns in 25 seconds, the match was ended. So it’s like, ‘okay let’s try and fight with a big promotion now’ and we were patient and we got our opportunity.”

The inactivity from MMA competition is something that Blackie feels could benefit him when he returns. With little footage of his fights available, largely due to him ending most of them quickly and having not competed in a long time, he remains a bit of a mystery for future opponents.

“I am a martial artist, I train every day regardless of competition, and I think competition is a phase of the journey,” Blackie said.

“I certainly have developed a lot of skills in the last couple of years and that is something that I will have up my sleeve. The only footage is from three years ago of me fighting.”

With Blackie planning to have a big 2022, Australian combat sport fans should expect a lot of aggressive fights from the Featherweight, who will continue looking for finishes.

“I’ve always fought like that. It’s always been go straight in there and attack and go for the finish as soon as possible,” he concluded.

“It will be much the same which I think was a fairly popular style to watch. I think people enjoyed that.

“We did well performing in Australia so now take that to the biggest stage and do the same.”

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