Sadibou Sy needed a little time to fully adapt to the world of the PFL. But now, in his fourth season with the promotion, he says he’s ready to assume the mantle of world champion.
Sy takes on Dilano Taylor in the welterweight final of the 2022 PFL Championships, which take place November 25 at Hulu Theatre, Madison Square Garden in New York. The event streams live on ESPN+ pay per view.
The bout represents the culmination of a journey for the 35-year-old former kickboxer, who has found his feet on the global MMA stage with the PFL.
“Being a kickboxer and Muay Thai four-time world champion, and now becoming an MMA fighter, it took me a while. It took me actually four years and four seasons in the PFL to grow,” he said.
“Now, having the opportunity to fight for a million dollars in one fight in one night is the opportunity of a lifetime. And I’ll be damned if I let that slip.”
Sy, whose nickname “The Swedish Denzel” came from a joke by commentator Todd Harris during the action of one of his early PFL fights, has competed in four PFL seasons, but it’s only now that he’s found the consistency to take him all the way to the $1 million final.
Despite the size of the prize on offer, Sy said he’s maintaining the laid-back, fun-loving attitude that helped bring him to the dance.
“I’m focusing, I’m dedicated and I’m always gonna do what I need to do. But I have the other side of me that just like I don’t take myself that serious. I always love to have a good time,” he explained.
“There’s so many things that for me, part of being me (is) having fun because for me, everything is having fun on the journey.”
Born to Senegalese immigrants in Sweden, Sy grew up with a loving family around him, and said that the lively family atmosphere helped mould him into the character that now performs in front of millions in the PFL SmartCage.
“Growing up, I was skinny, short, kid,” he recalled.
“I remember my oldest sister, she was hoping that I was gonna grow into my face and grow into my lips because everything started to to grow at different phases, right?
“My mom and dad immigrated from Senegal, but I’m born here in Sweden. Five siblings grew up together in a very busy household, always full with food, always full with laughter, music and so many friends around us. And that’s actually made me who I am today.”
With the backing of his family, and the motivation of representing not only his country of Sweden, but also his Senegalese heritage, Sy said he’s ready to go all the way and become PFL welterweight champion.
That belief was only further strengthened when he won his way through to the PFL playoffs by defeating pre-season favourite and former Bellator champion Rory MacDonald.
“I believe that I’ve grown as a fighter as a person. But after my second fight against Rory MacDonald, so much was on the line. At that point, after that victory, I knew that the welterweight division in the whole world is in trouble,” he said.
“Bringing home the belt, the world championship title for PFL, to Sweden would be one of the biggest accomplishments of Swedish mixed martial arts, and I’m looking forward to that.
“I’m also looking forward to taking the belt to Senegal. And I can just see my people be so proud that we have a world champion.
“It’s my time. I’ve done everything. I really mean that everything to become the champion of PFL. I’m fighting for my family, fighting for myself, fighting for Sweden. I’m gonna bring this world title back to Stockholm.”
The PFL 2022 Championships take place November 25 at the Hulu Theater, Madison Square Garden, New York, and streams live on ESPN+ PPV.