Philipe Lins was a rising, unbeaten light heavyweight from Brazil when he signed with Bellator in 2014, but never got things going in the promotion. He was let go after winning three of six fights, and realized he needed to change things up in 2018.
Excited with the idea of a million-dollar tournament at Professional Fighters League, “Monstro” moved up to heavyweight and made quite a first impression in July, knocking out Alex Nicholson at PFL 4. Guaranteed to make the heavyweight playoffs, Lins stopped teammate Caio Alencar and Jared Rosholt on the same night to earn a spot in the final.
After competing six times under the Bellator banner between 2014 and 2017, the American Top Team heavyweight sees his PFL 11 million-dollar clash against Josh Copeland, set for the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 31, as “the most important fight of my career.”
“I’m fighting for a million dollars, I’m fighting for the 2018 belt,” Lins told MMA Fighting, “And I’m fighting someone with a big name. Josh Copeland, who was a UFC fighter, has faced so many great fighters before in his career.”
The belt on the line on Dec. 31 is the “2018 title”, which means he will have to go through everything all over again in 2019 to try to capture another title — and more money. The championship is important for the Brazilian, but so is the money that will change the course of his life.
Even with such a tempting carrot dangling in front of him, Lins tries “to separate things” and pay no attention to the million-dollar check waiting on the other side of the rainbow.
“When I noticed that it was distracting me, I tried to think about other things, but you always think about it eventually,” Lins said of the money. “It’s the type of money that will change my life and my family’s life. I’ll be able to help my parents in Brazil and give my daughter a comfortable life, so we think about that, but I don’t let that take my focus away from the fight or make me anxious.
“During the camp, someone might think ‘if I lose this fight, I just lost a million dollars. When am I going to have this opportunity again?’ That thought came into my head at one point, but I quickly stopped thinking about it. When a fight starts I never think about money, I only think about winning. After the win, you’re relieved that you won, and only then I allow myself to think about money.”
Lins was able to rebound from back-to-back defeats in Bellator in 2017 with three impressive wins this year inside the PFL cage. Back in October, he made $100,000 in one night with wins over Alencar and Rosholt, and admits he didn’t expect to be able to turn things around that quickly in his life.
“It’s much better now,” Lins said. “I came here a year and a half away and faced some struggles. I fought for Bellator, but didn’t give up. I kept going, and now I’m being recognised after years of work. I made more money in three fights at PFL than I did in my entire career, so things have already changed a lot for me.”
The money will only come with a win in New York, and “Monstro” is “very confident” that he will have his hands raised in the end against Copeland, who went 2-1-1 under the PFL banner in 2018.
“It’s a big fight, I have a tough opponent ahead of me,” Lins said. “He’s strong and hits hard, moves well, but my ATT coaches and I came up with a very solid strategy to come out victorious in the end. We did an extraordinary work and I’m very confident. He’s very tough, but so am I, and we’ll brawl in this final [laughs].”