Sadibou Sy’s journey to the PFL championship wasn’t an easy one, but his high-level training partners helped him reach his goal.
SY (13-6-2) stuck and moved on Dilano Taylor (10-3) over the course of 25 minutes at 2022 PFL Championships at Madison Square Garden to win the welterweight championship. “The Swedish Denzel” has been with the promotion since 2018, and he says the steady improvement to reach the pinnacle made his crowning moment special.
“It feels better because I didn’t come straight in, 2018, first season winning,” Sy told reporters at the post-fight news conference (via MMA Sucka). “I had to go through a lot of struggle. A lot of struggle and a lot of deep conversation with my coaches and going through things, finding the right recipe. And that’s why today feels so much better.”
Along with the shiny championship belt comes a $1 million prize, but Sy says the money doesn’t mean as much to him now as it did when he first started his career as a fighter.
“To be honest, the check, I’m not trying to play it down, but the check is just money. To be able to become world champion for the fifth time – I was three-time world champion in kickboxing, one-time world champion in muay Thai, and now to be able to say that I’m a world champion in MMA, that’s for me is the big thing.”
Although he’s an excellent striker, when Sy made the transition to MMA, he was lacking in the grappling department. After working with one of the most smothering grapplers in the sport, Khamzat Chimaev, and dealing with the stand up pressure of Sean Strickland in the training room, Sy believes he’s becoming a hard puzzle to solve.
“People are not gonna take me down anymore,” Sy said. “That was a big hole in my game. I had good takedown defense one round or two rounds, and a lot of people have helped me for that. “The Wolf,” Khamzat, he’s different when it comes to that. So, knowing that you can wrestle with that guy, nobody else is going to give you that pressure, that ferocity that he brings.
“Sean Strickland, I always say that he’s a maniac. I train with him in Las Vegas since I’m based there since January. For me, I always say I make sure to give him rounds, and he gives me rounds. Even though he doesn’t fight like Dilano, like Rory, like anyone that I’m facing, but he brings the fight. He brings the dog. He brings you to deep water and he prepares you for the fight.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for 2022 PFL Championships.