As the 2022 PFL welterweight champion, Sadibou Sy returns to the PFL as the man to beat in the organization’s 170-pound division. But “The Swedish Denzel” is treating the new season as a fresh start, and the chance to produce an even more impressive body of work as he looks to claim back-to-back championships in 2023.

Speaking to reporters at a media day ahead of his bout at PFL 3 on April 14, Sy said he was adopting a challenger mindset, with his title-winning accomplishments from the 2022 season now in the rearview mirror.

“To be honest, it feels amazing,” he said.

“But, to be honest, I didn’t even bring the belt (to media day) because, for me, the belt is not going to help me when the cage door closes, right? That was last season. This is a new season. I’m not defending anything. I’m coming here to get a new one.”

Sy is now a seasoned veteran of the PFL SmartCage, and the 2022 champion said that now he knows the route all the way to the top of the welterweight division, he wants to repeat the feat he achieved last year, but do it in even more impressive fashion.

“I look at it this way, like, I’ve fought three seasons to get up to where I’m actually gonna fight for the belt, and winning the belt. So I believe that I became better,” he stated.

“I improved, and I worked on what I needed to work on to be able to get this (championship), right?

“But by no means am I thinking that I’m going into this season as the champion or nothing like that. I’m going in more hungry than I was last season, because now I know that I found the path. And I’m going to actually try to make a statement this season.”

Sy’s opening bout in the 2023 PFL welterweight season will see him take on former Brave CF super-welterweight champion Jarrah Al-Silawi, who already has two victories under the PFL banner, including a win over the notoriously tough Gleison Tibau. It’s a fresh matchup for Sy, and one he said he’s going to relish.

“I believe he’s a very nice guy. When we met he was a very respectful guy, and I like his style of fighting,” he said.

”I believe that stylistically he’s a good matchup for me. I’m taller, and he’s primarily a striker as well. And I believe that he wants to do things that I want to do and that his style of not being that aggressive is not the best way to fight me, I believe. So, on paper, I believe that this matchup is very good.

“Having said all of that, I believe that he’s gonna come more motivated than ever – that’s what I’m training for. So I have to be ready from the get-go. And my goal is to put a statement on. He had a bad showing in his last fight, so I don’t want him to gain any confidence. So look for a quick start this season.”