There are many reasons for Olivier Aubin-Mercier to be joyful right now. The 33-year-old Canadian is the PFL's 2022 lightweight champion and $1 million wealthier after knocking out Stevie Ray in the event's final match this past Friday, despite having recently questioned whether his fighting career might be ended.
It's a long way from when Aubin-Mercier was upset about being unable to participate amid the covid-19 outbreak and was forced to provide training sessions in his hometown to make ends meet.
“There was a point I didn’t know what would happen [with my career],” Aubin-Mercier said on The MMA Hour. “I mean when COVID happened, they really, truly closed everything here in Quebec and I was like god****, is it the end for my career? Is it the end for me? I thought about maybe getting a job because money was slowly going out of my bank account.
“I needed to pay some bills and actually at some point last year, I was giving classes in the park. People were able to come train with me. I was giving a little class in the park, everybody was two meters away from everybody, it was really truly crazy. I was asking like $20 a class. It’s crazy to think I was asking for $20 to train with me for an hour and then right now I just won the million dollars with the crazy knockout. I had some doubts with my career.”
The pandemic struck shortly after Aubin-Mercier's UFC career came to an end after more than five years with the organization. His contract expired as a result of a three-fight losing streak, leaving him an unrestricted free agent with no idea of what would happen after that. At that point, the PFL called with an invitation to join the lightweight lineup and a guarantee that success in the season-long competition would result in a million-dollar payout.
Aubin-Mercier claims that joining the PFL was the finest decision he could have made for his career now that he has made seven figures in a matter of a few minutes. He anticipates that more fighters will eventually realize that this is a chance they should take advantage of as well.
“I truly hope they see what’s happening,” Aubin-Mercier said. “I hope there’s no fighters that are mad about that, that are mad that they make less money in the UFC than I made money in the PFL. Because I think truly the problem is those fighters that decide to go to the UFC instead of the PFL just because of the big name.’’
Aubin-Mercier claims that the PFL considers him like a person rather than simply another name on the roster, which goes beyond the payment he just received, which he claims is more than he made throughout his whole time with the UFC.
“When I was in the UFC, I didn’t really feel respected. I felt like a number. That’s it,” Aubin-Mercier said. “With PFL, I don’t feel like a number.’’