The trademark moustache and laidback Tasmanian attitude remain, but Rob Wilkinson did allow himself one luxury after earning $1.5 million as Australia’s first PFL world champion last year.
”I bought myself a Porsche Macan,” the man known as ‘Razor’ told Wide World of Sports on the eve of Sunday’s 2023 season opener.
“That was a little treat for myself and it felt weird for the first week or so, driving around in a Porsche. I was very nervous that someone was going to run into it or something. But, yeah, it was nice.”
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Light heavyweight Wilkinson earned the huge payday by demolishing Russia’s Omari Akhmedov at New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden in November, completing an unbeaten season.
He now lives in Denver with his partner Paris but apart from the new wheels reckons “my life is pretty much the same.”
“Obviously it’s nice having a bit of money in the bank account and not stressing about that,” Wilkinson said.
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“A few more interviews and media stuff. It was nice going back home to Hobart over summer and a few people recognised me on the street or came up and congratulated me.
“But besides that I just feel like same old me.”
The 31-year-old credits his 2018 loss to Israel Adesanya – which led to his UFC release – as the wake-up call he needed to ignite his career.
He was a man possessed last year and, ahead of Sunday’s PFL 1 clash with Thiago Santos in Las Vegas, now considers himself a “complete fighter.”
“My goal is to be recognised as the best in the world,” Wilkinson said.
“Obviously some people think the UFC is better than PFL or rank the fighters in the UFC higher than other promotions.
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“But we’ve seen time and time again that there’s high level guys in all promotions. And at the moment I’m one of the most dominant light heavyweights. I’ve got all finishes since I’ve moved up to light heavyweight. I plan on having a dominant year with another world title. And then I think I’ll start really getting that recognition that I believe I deserve.”
Rather than resting on his laurels, Wilkinson used the Australian summer to re-set his goals, including some that ”should scare you.”
He used to be considered a grappling specialist but worked on his striking last year and got all of his knockouts from his feet.
“So I feel like I’ve shown that off but I’ve got more. This year I really want to blend those two skills together. I don’t want to just be striking. I don’t want to just be wrestling. I really want to blend those together and show that I’m a very well rounded fighter.”
His first fight against veteran Brazilian Santos, scheduled for 11am Sunday AEST, was crucial to setting that standard for the 2023 season.
“He was one of the top 10 guys when he left the UFC so going out there and beating him and making a statement against him will really show that I’m the guy to beat,” Wilkinson said.
“I want to make everyone not want to be fighting me. I want to make whoever gets me next be upset that they’ve got me.”
Wilkinson said he wasn’t the type of fighter that built up hatred towards an opponent but he thrived on the competition and the science behind elite MMA.
“I do a lot of visualisation work. It’s a hard feeling to describe but I’m very switched on and focused on what I’m going to do. I just surround myself with this energy that I’m kind of invincible going out there.”
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