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Linton Vassell entered 2024 PFL season over ‘waiting around’ for Bader


Linton Vassell expected Ryan Bader next but ended up entering the 2024 PFL season instead.

Vassell (24-8) was scheduled to challenge Bellator heavyweight champion Bader (31-8) this past October but withdrew due to lingering effects of COVID. In the meantime, Bader faced 2023 PFL champion Renan Ferreira in February but was knocked out in just 21 seconds.

Vassell still thought he’d get to run things back with Bader but ended up accepting an offer to join the 2024 PFL season when he was told Bader isn’t ready yet.

“I was supposed to fight Bader, which didn’t happen,” Vassell told MMA Junkie Radio. “I got sick in October. So, me and my manager were saying I’m going to fight him depending on what happens with him and Ferreira. Obviously he lost the fight, so I’m expecting I’m going to fight Ryan next. I get a phone call saying that fight is not happening. ‘Do you want to go into the PFL tournament?’

“This was about maybe four weeks ago. That’s exactly what happened. I didn’t even get a chance to really decide what I wanted to do, but I wanted to fight. I’ve been training, so I thought why not? It’s a year pretty much when I fought (Valentin) Moldavsky. I can’t be waiting around for Ryan or whatever fight could be lined up later.”

Vassell meets Denis Goltsov in Thursday’s 2024 PFL 1 (ESPN2, ESPN+) co-main event, which takes place at Boeing Center in San Antonio. The 40-year-old is enjoying his best career run having won five straight, and despite his age, is ready for the strenuous tournament format.

“I know what I’ve put myself into,” Vassell said. “How would I know unless I tried? I could always be like, ‘Oh, I’m not ready,’ but I could be like, ‘I’m 40 now, I’m not going to fight,’ but I feel I’m at my best right now. I’ve won my last five fights. It’s not like I’m winning and it’s going the distance. Out of five fights, one fight went the distance, and I’ve beaten the top guys.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for 2024 PFL 1.

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