Local Fighters

Louis Taylor Is Ready for the PFL Playoffs and a Shot at $1 Million

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Louis Taylor PFL Playoffs

by Matt Lo Cascio

Chicago’s Louis Taylor is two fights away from a shot at one million dollars and the PFL middleweight title. He fights Rex Harris in the quarterfinals of the PFL playoffs Saturday night in the nation’s capital. It’s a fantastic story. Taylor, 39, is at an age when most athletes are finishing or on the downside of their careers. But he’s been dominating the competition and is in line for his first major title and the biggest payday of his career.

THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD

Louis Taylor at PFL Weigh-Ins

He’s had a long career in MMA but it’s come with a number of bumps in the road. The UFC snubbed him after he had to pull out of the Uriah Hall fight. They pulled their contract offer and never asked for him again. He put on a show for Bellator — two first-round knockouts in two fights — but they didn’t show him any love.

“I’ve learned to accept that certain people and promotions just don’t like me,” Taylor told Chicago’s MMA. “They will use me, but typically I have always been the guy brought in to lose or to be the underdog. I’m at an age where most fighters hang it up and I’m finally getting recognized for what I bring to the fight game. Better late then never I guess, but I won’t lose sleep over any person or promotion’s opinon of me. As long as I work hard I’ll be happy with my life.”

Taylor has been very happy with the PFL. But during the transition from WSOF to PFL, there was about a year where Taylor could have competed elsewhere.

“I was interested in staying active in the UFC middleweight division, which is super thin, but they still have some type of grudge against re-signing me. I’m glad I had the opportunity to fight for the PFL, a great company whose future is bright.”

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER

Taylor has won three straight fights and nine of his last 10.  I told him I see absolutely no physical difference in the Louis today as I did back when he fought on the local circuit or even earlier in Strikeforce. Speed, power, wrestling — it all looks the same to me or even better. Taylor disagrees with me.

“Age has caught up to me. I feel it in practice and I have been going to decisions more often. I have a few fights left this year and I want to finish all of my opponents.”

Taylor might feel that way, but the results beg to differ. Yes, he’s gone to the judges’ scorecards twice in his last three fights, but he’s also finished his opponents in 13 of his 16 wins. He completely wrecked Anderson Goncalves in July, his first fight in almost a year. He finished him with a barrage of vicious power punches.

Next up is Rex Harris on Saturday night. If Taylor beats him he will face the winner of the John Howard vs. Shamil Gamzatov fight, and that fight will also take place on Saturday night. If Taylor wins both fights he advances to the PFL Middleweight Finals and will fight for the title and the one million dollar purse on New Year’s Eve in New York at Madison Square Garden. He’s not changing anything up too much in his preparation.

“The fights have come and gone so fast that I haven’t been game planning. I know how to win and as long as my conditioning is good I know I will win,” Taylor said.

GREEN AND GOLD

One million dollars is a lot of money. Certainly, there will be taxes and other expenses, but if Taylor wins the PFL tourney it will be the biggest payday of his career. The money is great, but Taylor is more concerned with the gold.

“Winning the PFL tournament will mean a lot for me career-wise. It will finally give me a world title, something that I’ve always strived for. The money isn’t enough to go crazy but it is enough to pay off my house and invest in a small business of my own.”

BOSOM BUDDIES WITH BELAL

Taylor is in D.C. with his good friend and training partner, UFC fighter and teammate Belal Muhammad. They’ve both enjoyed great success over the past few years, and both fighters are thankful to have the close bond they share.

Louis Taylor and Belal Muhammad

“Working with Belal has been great,” Taylor said. “He is a sponge for knowledge. I don’t teach or fight the way everybody else does. I believe that no two UFC champions have the same style and to be a champion you will have to create your own fighting identity. Belal never stops working and keeps his mind open to add more tools to his fight game. As long as we can stay healthy the sky is the limit.”

Muhammad feels the same way. “I’ve trained all around the world with some of the biggest names in the sport,” Muhammad said. “I can honestly say Lou is the toughest fighter I’ve ever trained with. We’ve been riding with each other since the beginning and we’ll be with each other in the end. Without Lou I wouldn’t be where I am today. He’s taught me so much about the sport and about life.”

Taylor’s first fight of the night can be seen on PFL’s Live Facebook page. The card begins at 5:30 Chicago time. If he advances to the semifinal round, his second fight can be seen on the main card on NBCSN, with a start time of 8 p.m. CT. Here’s hoping the only party Taylor attends on New Year’s Eve is the one in the cage for the PFL title. He’ll have all of 2019 and beyond to celebrate back home in Chicago.

Fuji Suparaito

About Matt Lo Cascio

Matt Lo Cascio is a former TV producer who turned to new media in 2005, and he is the co-founder and editor of Chicago's MMA. He is also the play-by-play announcer for the XFO. His work has been published by ESPN.com, DraftKings, The Comeback, FanSided and more.

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