Former UFC lightweight Chris Wade is finalizing a deal with the Professional Fighters League that will see him enter the promotion's inaugural season this summer.
Wade (12-3) has fought exclusively in the UFC since 2014, compiling a record of 5-2. The Long Island native believes he somehow butted heads with the promotion's executives, however, and has not been offered a new contract since his previous one expired eight months ago.
Wade, 30, is still frustrated with how things went in the UFC and says he's looking forward to competing under a very different business model. Unlike the UFC's matchmaking system, the PFL, formerly WSOF, consists of "regular-season" matches, which culminate in a $1 million playoff format.
"There's going to be a certain chip on my shoulder," Wade told ESPN. "I feel like I never got a chance against the best guys I wanted to test myself against in the UFC, and there's a lot left for me to prove.
"I told myself, if I'm going to stay in the fight game, the old Chris is dead. There's got to be a new sheriff in town. It has to be extremely violent and I have to prove [the UFC] f---ed up in how it handled things. If I don't do that, shame on me."
Wade is coming off losses in two of his past three fights, but is convinced that had little to do with his UFC tenure coming to an end.
The former collegiate wrestler won his first four fights in the Octagon but says he never felt the promotion was behind him -- perhaps because executives didn't appreciate his style, or that he occasionally spoke out about aspects of the industry he didn't like.
Whatever the reason -- or whether his assessment of the situation is accurate -- Wade isn't sure. He says he's had very little communication with the promotion, which is probably his greatest disappointment.
"Let's say I own a gym and someone works for me for four years -- I would send him an email or do something to explain what's going on," Wade said. "How are you supposed to know if they're not happy with your fights? All the fights I won were not close. The losses I had were to really tough guys. You never know what you're doing right or wrong.
"You get a win and leave happy, and meanwhile, they're like 'f--- this guy' behind closed doors. But you don't know that. Maybe you weren't active enough in the fight or whatever -- there's no communication to let you know where you stand. It's one of the toughest things I've ever dealt with as an athlete."
In the PFL -- which has also signed UFC veterans Will Brooks and Rick Story -- Wade says he should always know where he stands. And in addition to a shot at $1 million, that might be what he's looking forward to most.
"I see huge upside in the PFL," Wade said. "Every major pro sport has a playoffs aspect built into it. It's tough in MMA, because of the physicality and crazy nature of fighting. You can win a fight, get hurt, and need a fill-in. But I think PFL has put together a really good formula to do it the right way."