Chris Wade heads into his second fight with Professional Fighters League in a mental state that might be described as “happily frustrated.” He is proud to a part of the league but is on a mission to rectify the disappointment of his debut loss.
At PFL 2, Wade entered the lightweight regular season as a well-known name -- coming off of a 5-2 run in the Ultimate Fighting Championship -- and a favorite to go far. However, like several other former UFC veterans, such as Eddie Gordon and Thiago Tavares, he lost his season-opening fight. Wade is completely honest when he evaluates what went wrong against Natan Schulte.
“I slept on my opponent, and I didn’t work as hard as I needed to work [before the fight],” Wade told Sherdog.com. “I thought that he didn’t have anything for me.”
Although he studied Schulte and watched video of his previous bouts, Wade admits he was unprepared for the blistering pace the pair fought at from the outset. Wade was also amazed by the amount of damage his opponent was able to incur, without backing up. The combined pace and durability of Schulte became too much for him to handle.
“If you watch that fight, I gassed out halfway through,” Wade said.
Wade commends his opponent and refuses to take any legitimacy from Schulte’s victory. “I have to give him credit,” he said. “I don’t know what the hell he did [in between bouts] but his cardio, the pace he was able to put on, and the amount of shots he was able to take and keep coming forward…it was like fighting god damn Rocky.”
The loss led Wade to push himself as hard as he ever has in the weeks leading up to PFL 5 in Long Island, New York. “I was miserable with my last performance, so I basically tortured myself for the last six weeks after I got healthy,” he said.
Wade maintains he been training two to three times a day, six or seven days a week. This rigorous camp actually has the Long Island native excited, because through pain he sees progress. “Camp was awesome, it was brutal,” Wade said. “[I was] leaving practices keeled over, feeling like I was going to die, and just wanting it to be that way.”
Yet the Long Island MMA fighter isn’t concerned that he may have overworked himself during this camp. While he may have pushed himself harder than he ever has before, he believes that he and his trainers had defined methods to their madness.
“The way that we attacked this camp wasn’t as a stupid camp, where you’re sparring three times a week, and you’re leaving beat up and everything hurts,” he said. “This [style of training] was attacking my muscular [and] cardiovascular endurance in an intelligent way.”
Perhaps because he is pushing himself as never before, Wade is also confident about his weight heading into Thursday night.
“My weight’s great,” Wade said. He claims that as of Monday, he was nine pounds away from the lightweight limit and that by Tuesday morning he was at six pounds to go. For the morning of Wednesday’s weigh-ins he expects to be down to three pounds and will spend the early morning hours sweating off the last bit.
One of the positives of PFL’s season format is the quick turnaround between bouts. The immediacy of the schedule has allowed Wade to get back to the training grind quicker and stay at a more efficient walk-around weight. It reminds him a lot of his amateur wrestling days, and he likes that. “The fight game is a challenge for wrestlers,” says the former New York state high school wrestling champion. “I’m a guy that needs some kind of rhythm, I need some ring rust knocked off. I can’t go in like Floyd Mayweather once every three years and have my best performance.”
If it was up to him, he would fight like this all the time. “I would fight like this six months a year and take a six-month break,” says Wade. The consistency of his bouts so far is an aspect he values immensely as a part of the PFL roster. “I’m more active than I have been in years under their banner,” he says, “this is what we do for a living. Bring it man, I’ll fight next month.”
Because the PFL’s season format rewards fighters for finishes above decision wins, with earlier finishes weighted more heavily, fighters who lost their first match of the season still hold their destinies in their own hands. Although Wade may currently have zero points in the standings, he doesn’t feel any added pressure to get a finish, and maximize his last chance to reach the playoffs. He believes fighting his fight, and making sure he gets the win, should get him to where he wants to be -- in the running to win a million dollars at the end of this season. It is an opportunity he sees as an upgrade over his former employers, the UFC.
“What I stand to gain from competing in the PFL is higher than my earning potential was in the UFC, because of what they thought of me,” said Wade.
Wade not only cherishes the opportunity the PFL’s format offers fighters, but he appreciates how the company has treated him. “Once you get over the rush you get [from making it to the UFC], you see the bullsh*t that it is, and the politics that it is,” he said. “I love the way the PFL has been treating me.”