Goiti Yamauchi relieved by PFL debut win in return from MVP knee injury: ‘This is a fight that I needed’

CHICAGO – He did not get a stoppage, but for Goiti Yamauchi, his PFL debut win was everything he wanted.

Yamauchi, a long-time Bellator contender, made his PFL debut this Friday, defeating Neiman Gracie in a rematch as part of the opening bouts of the welterweight season at 2024 PFL 3. Yamauchi (29-6) beat Gracie (12-5) by unanimous decision, earning him three points in the season.

Some may see the win as not the best-case scenario, given that a finish would’ve awarded Yamauchi more points, but it was perfect for Yamauchi.

“Wow, it was really good to be back,”  Yamauchi said in his post-fight interview. “This is a fight that I needed, the kind of win that was really good for me, and to be back in the cage and get this win after this serious injury. I couldn’t have asked for a better result tonight, and I’m really happy.”

This was Yamauchi’s first fight since suffering that wild knee injury in his TKO loss to Michael Page in March 2023. It was one of the most bizarre and worst injuries seen in MMA that year.

Looking to make it to the 2024 PFL welterweight final to get a chance to become champion and win the $1 million prize, Yamauchi’s main focus is winning, but also staying injury-free in the process. That’s why he’s very happy with his showing against Gracie.

“You have to take a new approach and a new strategy because it’s all about being healthy till the end of the tournament,” Yamauchi explained. “Of course, we wanted the six points, but it’s hard to deal with this new thing in the PFL. Sometimes you get a tougher opponent or someone who’s hard to finish, like Neiman. Neiman is so hard to finish. Nobody but me has finished him. Neiman is a tough guy, and it’s hard to finish him, but thank God I could get the win.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for PFL 2024, Week 3.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie