September 12, 2022

Is the Croatian MMA fighter Ante Delija next star on PFL?

By Paul Rowe

PFL 2022 Finalist Ante Delija was born in 1990 in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Ante turned professional as far back as 2011 when he fought Sasa Lazic, which he won by KO in the first round. Delija trains with Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic and his team in Zagreb, Croatia.

6-foot-5 Ante has fought for organisations such as M-1 Global, KSW and RIZIN. “Walking Trouble” had a severe leg injury in 2015 after his defeat to Marcin Tybura, which he lost by TKO due to his leg fracture. Ante finally returned to RIZIN in May 2018 where he defeated Ricardo Prasel by unanimous decision. One year later, Ante received his big break signing for the PFL and played a small part in the 2019 regular season beating Carl Seumanutafa by unanimous decision but then had to withdraw due to a hand injury. The 2020 PFL season was cancelled due to the Global Covid 19 pandemic. He did however fight in the leading Polish MMA organisation Confrontation of Martial Arts, where he defeated Oli Thompson by TKO.

In 2020 Ante Delija was involved in a contract dispute with the PFL, he had agreed to sign with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), and a fight with French Mixed Martial Artist Ciryl Gane was arranged for October 17th 2020, in Abu Dhabi. But the fight was cancelled due to Delija still being contracted to the PFL.

In 2021 Ante Delija starred for the PFL and reached the finals, despite losing his opening fixture to Bruno Cappelozza by KO, he went on to beat Chandler Cole and Denis Golcow, by TKO and unanimous decision respectively. He then faced Bruno Cappelozza again in the final. And for the title, he produced a better display than his first encounter with Bruno. It also proved to be one of the PFL’s classic encounters but unfortunately lost by a unanimous points decision.

Ante Delija has wasted no time in this season's PFL, beating Matheus Scheffel in his opener by KO with a beautiful right-hand cross in round 2. In his second fight, he went the distance with Shelton Graves winning a unanimous decision in Atlanta back in June. In his semi-final, play-off Ante was impressive with a first-round TKO of Renan Ferreira to secure his spot in the PFL final yet again for a chance to win $ 1 million. In the final, he will face a familiar foe in Matheus Scheffel, who he defeated in his first regular season bout. Ante Delija has had an eventful journey to the PFL finals, and nobody would back against him securing the PFL heavyweight crown.


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