The PFL’s 2022 Light Heavyweight Champion has a strong case as one of the best oceanic fighters to do it. Let’s take a closer look at Rob Wilkinson.
Hailing from the grand island of Tasmania, Wilkonson began his career on the oceanic regional scene as a Middleweight. He showed instant prowess in mixed martial arts, amassing several wins by submission and knockout. After ten straight wins to start his career, a brief stop in Finland saw him pick up a UFC contract-winning performance over Alexander Poppeck, pushing his record to 11-0.
Unfortunately, Wilkinson’s UFC tenure was not the showing of his true capabilities that he desired. He would lose his debut by 2nd round TKO and would be given one more fight against future champion and UFC debutant, Israel Adeansya. The two faced off at UFC 221: Romero vs. Rockhold back home in Australia, and Wilkinson suffered another 2nd round TKO loss. Since then he has competed across 3 different combat sports, and hasn't lost once.
This was his final fight at Middleweight, as the weight cut had become too much. Wilkinson told us stories of his cut vs. Adesanya, revealing that he couldn’t stand straight without assistance prior to the bout and was in no shape to be fighting.
Following the Adesanya fight, Wilkinson parted ways with the UFC in order to find a new stride and get his career back on track. After five straight wins in MMA, boxing, and kickboxing, his next stop, and home to this day, was The Professional Fighters League (PFL). He moved up to the Light Heavyweight division, where he’d no longer suffer brutal weight cuts, and the difference was night and day.
His debut in the promotion was a 2nd round knockout over Bruce Soto. To follow it up, he scored two sensational 1st round KOs over Viktor Pesta and Delan Monte en route to the 2022 PFL Finals.
His next test was the biggest spotlight of his career, the $1 million PFL world championship final on PPV. He took on fellow finalist and UFC alumn Omari Akhmedov. Wilkinson battered the Dagestani through rounds one and two, spilling a gut-wrenching amount of blood, forcing the bout to be called to a halt before the start of round 3. With that, he was the undisputed winner and the new millionaire, going from a regional Aussie standout to an unfortunate start to his UFC career and now being one of the world's highest-paid fighters.
Record: 17-2 (9 KO, 7 SUB)
Age: 31 (1992-2-22)
Weight: 205 lbs (93 kg)
Height: 6’3” (191 cm)
Reach: 80” (203 cm)
Next Fight: vs. Thiago Santos at PFL 1 2023
Rob makes his first appearance inside the PFL Smartcage since winning the $1 million tomorrow night at the PFL 2023 Season Opener in the main event against Thiago Santos. Be sure to catch it on ESPN+ and leave your prediction in the comments.