Emiliano Sordi is making the most of his $1 million PFL prize.
The Argentine fighter won the PFL’s 2019 light heavyweight season and playoffs. Sordi (22-8 MMA) defeated five opponents in one year to take the light heavyweight title and the hefty $1 million check that came with the belt.
But instead of enjoying the luxuries and comforts that kind of money can buy, Sordi gave back to his community to help thousands of people in his hometown of Rio Cuarto, a small city in the province of Cordoba in Argentina.
“I tried to use this that happened to me to help friends and people in my city,” Sordi said in Spanish on Monday’s episode of Hablemos MMA. “I live in Rio Cuarto. It’s a very small city. It might have 180,000 inhabitants. The people had it very bad.
“Everything here is very rough. The economy is very bad. The situation is looking very ugly.”
Just like anywhere else in the world, the ongoing pandemic took its toll on Argentina, a country with one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns, and its economy.
Out of his own pocket and with the help of friends, Sordi put a plan together to cook and distribute food in his hometown. The initiative ran from March to August, feeding thousands of people.
“During the quarantine, a few times we were allowed to leave during the week. I would go out and try to help people with my friends. We got special permits that the municipality gave us and we would go out twice or three times a week, sometimes one, and we would give out food.
“We started giving food to about 300 people and we got to a point where we gave food to 3,000. So economically, I didn’t enjoy any of (the $1 million prize). I didn’t buy anything. I didn’t go on vacation. I mean, I was locked at home. But I used those resources to help people who were going through a rough time.”
Sordi was given permission to use the clubhouse of his neighborhood and its large kitchen. “He-Man” and friends would cook for long periods of time and sometimes even through the night.
They would then pack the food, load it on to trucks, and go to different sectors around town where people were waiting. The process repeated itself around the city, feeding many.
“It broke my soul watching children, like 5 or 10 years old, telling me that they hadn’t eaten in three days or that their mother would only drink tea so they could eat. The truth is that it was a tough experience, but it would give us an even bigger desire to keep helping them.”
Sordi is glad to have helped many, but said there are plenty of people in Argentina who need help and are in rough conditions.
“(I did) everything with my own money. I never asked for money to any organization, and much less the state,” Sordi said. “I did what I could. I invested my money in something that brought me satisfaction and it was just that: helping those who were hungry. And to this day, there’s people who are still living in hunger.”
Sordi trains at Alliance MMA in San Diego. Because of the closed borders in Argentina, he’s been unable to go to the U.S. to continue his MMA training. During the lockdown, the 29-year-old said he got as heavy as 265 pounds – 60 pounds more than the weight he normally competes at.
Sordi is back in shape (and at a lower weight) now that restrictions in Argentina are easing up and he’s able to train more. He expects to travel to the U.S. in mid December to begin his training for the 2021 PFL light heavyweight season, which is set to take place in the spring in Las Vegas.
This was originally published on www.mmajunkie.com