One round on one judge’s scorecard. That’s all Islip’s Chris Wade needed to go the other way last October for him to be a primary combatant on New Year’s Eve for the PFL lightweight championship with a hefty $1 million pay day.
Instead, he’s on the outside looking in, with only a few more days for his metaphorical fortune to change and present an opportunity for financial fortune.
Wade is the first alternate for the lightweight title fight as the Professional Fighters League hosts its inaugural PFL Championship at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. Should either Natan Schulte, who was awarded the split-decision win over Wade despite being outstruck four times over, or Rashid Magomedov not make it to fight night, Wade would step in and get the shot he still feels should be his to begin with.
“It’s very meh, just because I’m still a little bitter,” Wade said. “It’s hard to swallow in fighting when you think you had it, but it’s based on judging.”
Wade is realistic about his chances. Fight camp is over for Schulte and Magomedov, so the chances of injury in the next few days are small. If either fighter were to miss the 155-pound mark at Sunday’s weigh-ins, even by as little as one-tenth of a pound, Wade would replace the overweight fighter. That chance likely is Wade’s best opportunity to go from compensated weight-cutter to championship challenger. It also is feasible that either Schulte or Magomedov aren’t cleared by the New York State Athletic Commission’s doctors during their medical review after weigh-ins.
Freeport’s Andre Harrison also is an alternate in the featherweight division. He lost in the PFL semifinals to Lance Palmer. Should the second-seeded Palmer or opponent and No. 1 seed Steven Siler not make it to fight night, Harrison would step in, provided he makes the 145-pound weight limit.
Wade knows the odds. Still, he did his research.
“I could be wrong, but I don’t think either of these guys has ever missed weight,” Wade said. “If their track record, they’re veterans and they never miss weight and all this money is on the line … .”
If Schulte or Magomedov first weigh in over 155 pounds, they would have another two hours to cut the excess weight under NYSAC guidelines for championship bouts.
Wade was a regular sparring partner for UFC lightweight Al Iaquinta leading into his Dec. 15 fight against Kevin Lee.
“There has almost been a little more intensity to this non-fight camp just because Al had such a big fight coming up.”
Wade said his preparation for a potential fight has not been like training for an actual, guaranteed fight. There was the sparring with Iaquinta and his typical weekly training and practice sessions, but it wasn’t really “fight camp.”
Regardless of what happens with Schulte and Magomedov at weigh-ins, Wade will have to make 155 pounds on Sunday in order to receive his compensation, a check with less zeroes than the one given to the champion on Monday.
“I’m looking at it like I’ll cut some weight for some cash. I don’t have a problem with that,” Wade said. “Really slim chances that I’m actually going to be putting the gloves on. But, nonetheless, an opportunity to stay somewhat busy during the winter between seasons, make some money. What’s better than getting paid to stay in shape and to continue to train and improve yourself?”