MMA/UFC

Natan Schulte not surprised by Francis Ngannou’s silence on controversy, still training for PFL playoffs despite suspension

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Natan Schulte | Cooper Neill, PFL

Natan Schulte and Olivier Aubin-Mercier were set to rematch in the PFL lightweight semifinal on Aug. 23 before the promotion suspended both Schulte and his friend Raush Manfio for allegedly not using their “best efforts” to win win they were booked to fight this past June.

Shane Burgos was awarded the final playoff spot with the decision, and Schulte took on social media to criticize the move and call out Francis Ngannou for help. Ngannou, a former UFC heavyweight champion, inked a deal with PFL in 2023 to serve not only as a fighter, but as an advisor to represent fighters’ interests.

Ngannou did not comment on the situation.

“He didn’t say anything,” Schulte said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “But I think it’s hard. He carries a flag like, ‘I’ll fight for athletes’ rights,’ but it’s complicated because he just signed with PFL and wants to represent PFL, not get into any controversy with them now. That’s why I think he won’t say anything really.”

A two-time PFL lightweight champion, Schulte said his manager is still trying to work it out with PFL to get him back in the playoffs. The Brazilian lightweight said he’s training at American Top Team as if he were fighting Aubin-Mercier, Bruno Miranda or Clay Collard at PFL 9, a card that goes down Aug. 23 in New York City.

If the suspension stands, Schulte laments the fact he could stay out for nearly a year.

“I don’t want to leave PFL because I like it here,” he said. “I have great relationship with the promotion, the staff. I never had any problem with them before this, but the fact that this happened is very upsetting. I didn’t want to have to deal with this now.”

Just like Manfio said on a recent episode of Trocação Franca podcast, his performance was the result of the emotional stress of having to fight a close friend and teammate. Yet, he feels that handing a suspension that ultimately benefitted Burgos was unfair.

“I don’t have anything against Shane Burgos, but that spot is mine,” Schulte said. “I have to fight. I did the face-off with Olivier, the brackets were ready, and I was getting the rematch of a split decision I felt I won, and I hope everything works out as fast as possible.”

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