Joao Zeferino not taking playoffs for granted ahead of PFL 6 bout vs. Yuri Villefort

After a quick win in his first fight of the season at PFL 3 in July, Joao Zeferino has his foot in the door for the playoffs this fall.

But Zeferino (22-9) isn’t taking his Thursday fight against Yuri Villefort (11-6) lightly by any stretch of the imagination. His six points in the standings might bode well for making the eight-man welterweight playoff field even if he loses to Villefort. But he’s leaving nothing to chance.

“I already have a foot in the playoffs, but that doesn’t change how seriously I’m taking this,” Zeferino recently told MMAjunkie. “Nothing is more important than victory. That matters the most. It doesn’t matter how. If I can win as quickly as last time, without damage to myself, that’d be great. I don’t think about stalling and playing it safe. I’ll look for a fight and for the win.”

PFL 6 takes place Thursday at Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. The televised card airs on NBCSN following a live-streamed start of the event on Facebook.

Zeferino and the other fighters in the division have a pair of regular-season fights in which they’ll earn points to qualify for this fall’s playoffs. At the end, the winners in each of six divisions will take home $1 million each. Zeferino’s first-round TKO of Paul Bradley at PFL 3 earned him six points.

“My bout against Paul Bradley was, without a doubt, very important,” Zeferino said. “Besides picking up six points to advance to the playoffs, the way it happened was very dominant. It’s a message to all my potential opponents that I’m good everywhere. I’ve been training hard. The result is my evolution and increased confidence as a fighter.”

Thursday, Zeferino has to take on a fellow Brazilian in Villefort, who like him has a pair of fights in the UFC under his belt. And Villefort may be coming in chasing a finish, given he lost a decision to Rick Story at PFL 3, leaving him without any points heading into Thursday’s fight. Zeferino, along with Magomed MagomedKerimov, sit atop the welterweight standings with six points each.

“Yuri, no doubt, is a good opponent,” Zeferino said. “There are no easy opponents in this tournament. Yuri had a good fight against Rick Story, who has a good name, though neither one of them impresses me physically, or as far as their offensive ability. They’re excellent fighters. It was a good scrap.

“Yuri showed some holes in his game. We’ll look to capitalize on that. I won’t reveal my strategy before the fight, but it’s been put together. And the fact that Yuri gets to train with various excellent fighters, that doesn’t matter much. I also train with some of the best jiu-jitsu practitioners in the world, best wrestlers, and best strikers. I have excellent coaches. So it’s all very relative. I think what matters most is the daily dedication to training.”

Zeferino’s training partners at the Renzo Gracie academy include David Branch, Neiman Gracie, Smealinho Rama and even Jake Shields, who also is a part of the welterweight season.

“I’ll fight wherever I’m booked to fight,” Zeferino said. “But without a doubt, fighting close to home is even better. It makes logistics easier in regard to traveling and cutting weight. And, for sure, my students, friends and training partners will be there watching me. The bunch of them will be motivating me. You can’t put a price on that. I can’t wait. I’m very motivated for this fight.

“This tournament has a very good prize – $1 million. My plan would be to invest this money for the future for me, my wife and our family. Not only that, but the legacy from a victory like that is very motivational. It makes me wake up early and train hard so I can overcome all obstacles. And this is just the first year.”

For more on PFL 6, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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