Delan Monte finished off Emiliano Sordi to make it to the 2022 playoffs. | Cooper Neill, PFL
Delan Monte defines himself as a man of simple taste. The PFL light heavyweight, who grew up as a judoka and once dreamed of representing Brazil in the Olympics, is two wins away from pocketing $1 million in his promotion’s light heavyweight playoffs, but he isn’t thinking too much about the money. That is, unless you start talking about sneakers.
In that case, Monte’s face immediately breaks out in a huge, glowing smile. You see, he has plans for what he’s going to do with seven-figure pay.
“[Winning] $1 million dollars changes the life of any person in the world,” Monte said this week on MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca, “but I’ll be honest with you, brother, I’m not focused on the money. I’m a man of simple habits. The only expensive thing I like are sneakers.”
Monte loves basketball sneakers. His collection currently includes over a dozen Air Jordans and at least “six or seven” Yeezys. Monte’s latest interests are New Balances — he already has two new pairs at home.
If the 28-year-old manages to beat Rob Wilkinson at Friday’s PFL 7 event in New York City and then gets past the winner of Omari Akhmedov vs. Josh Silveira later this year to win the $1 million grand prize, he’s going all-in with his collection, starting with the Jordan 1 Off-White Chicago and the Air Jordan 4 Off-White — “holy grails” worth thousands of dollars.
“Holy sh*t, brother. No doubt, half of that prize would go do sneakers,” he said with a laugh. “My wife would go nuts. First, I would buy a bigger house and have a room only for my sneakers. I’d have a bunch of shelves just for the sneakers, and then she wouldn’t be able to complain anymore. My sneakers are taking over the house right now.
“Winning the [final], I’ll talk to guy manager Lucas [Lutkus] on my way out of the cage to go check the price on Stockx and buy them already. I’m not even thinking about the money, I just want it to buy my sneakers, then I’ll be happy.”
In all seriousness, he adds, “I fight for my legacy. I fight for the happiness of my father, my brother and my family. Money is consequence. I’m healthy, brother. We can always go after the money. What we leave behind in this world is legacy. Money stays with other people when we die. My name will be remembered. When someone says ‘Delan from Paraíba,’ [they’ll say,] ‘that guy was for real. He was the underdog and beat everyone from the United States, for Russia, from f*cking anywhere, and won the whole thing.’”
Monte, who trains out of Evolução Thai in Brazil, lost his PFL debut to current champion Antonio Carlos Junior in under a minute but bounced back in devastating fashion two months later, stopping 2020 season winner Emiliano Sordi in just 92 seconds. Monte now promises the best performance of his career against Wilkinson, who’s won four straight since leaving the UFC off of a loss to future champion Israel Adesanya.
“I always go for the finish,” Monte said. “That’s what I love. If I’m going to win, it’s going to be in a gun fight. If I’m going to lose, I’m still going to keep shooting. No one’s ever going to leave my fight calling it a boring fight. I fought Emiliano Sordi, a super tough guy, and put pressure and landed my right hand — boom. That’s what’s going to happen in this fight too. I’m sure Wilkinson will feel my right hand and go down.”
“He’s going to try to take me down,” Monte continued. “I’ve heard it backstage. When we faced off at that last event, I felt his fear. When fighters looks at each other, we know what they are feeling. I’m sure he’ll try to take me down when I start to put pressure. I’m a black belt in judo, he won’t be able to take me down. He has a hole in his stand-up, it’s too open, and we’re working hard on that. I’ll use my jab just like Adesanya did. When I start to hurt him to see that he’s getting tired, then I’ll throw my right hand.”