Natan Schulte aiming to become first PFL three-season champ in 2023

Natan Schulte is looking to become the PFL's first ever three-season champion.

By: Lucas Rezende | 2 months ago
Natan Schulte aiming to become first PFL three-season champ in 2023
November 24, 2022, New York, NY, New York, NY, United States: NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 23: Natan Schulte stands on the scales at the 2022 PFL Championship Weigh Ins at The New Yorker Hotel in NYC. November 23, 2022 in New York, NY, United States. New York, NY United States - ZUMAp175 20221124_zsa_p175_155 Copyright: xMattxDaviesx

The PFL 2018 and 2019 PFL lightweight champion is looking for his third title this season. Though he did not do that well in the 2021 and 2022 tournaments, Natan Schulte believes 2023 will be the year to become the promotion’s first ever three-time tournament winner.

Having lost in the first round of the 2021 and 2022 tournaments, Schulte expects to make a comeback in 2023 and wants to start the new season with an impressive win to recover from his latest shortcomings.

Natan Schulte has big plans for 2023

Paired up against UFC veteran Stevie Ray for his first fight of this season, Schulte explained to Combate why he feels ready to win it in 2023. Being a PFL veteran who’s about to start his fifth season with the promotion, the Brazilian believes experience will help him score another win. Furthermore, Natan feels focused and prepared to have a good run after having a good camp at American Top Team.

“I’m really excited for this fight. I’m a PFL veteran, I’m going into my fifth season. I’m pretty used to the format. I’m happy to be fighting again even though I did not get good results in the last couple of years,” Schulte said “I think I have a pretty good chance this year. If I win, I’ll be the first PFL tri-champion. I’ve been training at American Top Team, I’m focused on this fight. I fought Jeremy Stephens at the end of the last year, but I was I wasn’t competing for the title. This year, I think I have a good chance of making it to the finals and becoming champion.”

Natan Schulte expects to dominate Ray

Though Schulte knows his opponent prefers a ground fight than a striking one, the Brazilian feels ready to take him on wherever the match goes. In fact, should it go to the ground, Schulte claims his superiority will show, but if it stays on the feet, the 31-year-old vows to show he can also handle a striking match.

“He’s a jiu-jitsu guy. Most of his wins are by submission. He’s not a very sharp striker. He’s a southpaw and I want to take advantage of that. I can fight on both stances, so I want to go southpaw against him. He doesn’t do well in that situation. So much so that he got knocked out by Aubin-Mercier with a right hook on the chin. I think that putting on pressure with kicks right from the start is good. I was able to hit some good transitions from there during training. I know that if I’m able to put on that kind of pressure on him, knowing he goes for a jiu-jitsu fight, he won’t be able to handle it. The moment I start to scramble, start putting my hands on him, he’s going to give up positions and I’ll catch him. Maybe with an arm-triangle or a rear-naked choke.”

Recent records

In his last outing, Natan Schulte (23-5-1) score a submission win over another UFC veteran in Jeremy Stephens, back in November 2022. The victory put the Brazilian on a two-fight winning streak, having also defeated Marcin Held, in June of the same year. The 31-year-old’s last loss took place in April 2022, when he dropped a split decision to Olivier Aubin-Mercier.

Meanwhile, Ray (25-11) got knocked out by Aubin-Mercier in his last outing, in November 2022. Before that, the 33-year-old was on a two-fight winning streak, having defeat former UFC champion Anthony Pettis twice via unanimous decision, in June and August of last year.

Card info

Now, Natan Schulte is expected to take on Ray at PFL 3, on April 14, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card is scheduled to be headlined by 2022 lightweight champion Olivier Aubin-Mercier and another UFC veteran Shane Burgos.

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About the author
Lucas Rezende
Lucas Rezende

Lucas Rezende is a Brazilian journalist and writer from Belem, Para. He has been covering MMA since 2012 and contributing with Bloody Elbow since March 2015. When not writing, Lucas also teaches English. In his free time, he enjoys reading, slapping the bass guitar and traveling.

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