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For Rakim Cleveland, It’s One Fight at a Time in PFL’s Playoff Format

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Though he may have lost his August Professional Fighters League bout to Maxim Grishin via second-round submission, light-heavyweight veteran Rakim Cleveland is not too concerned with the outcome.

As part of the PFL’s seasonal format, Cleveland secured a spot in the promotion’s post season, lessening the sting of the loss to Grishin.

“My thoughts are that it was a good fight,” Cleveland told MMAWeekly.com. “I made some minor mistakes that cost me the fight. Moving forward, I learned from my mistakes and began to prepare for the playoffs.”

With a format that makes for bouts every couple months, Cleveland has little time to think about anything other than preparing for the next fight and moving forward, which is something he has always done.

“I’m used to staying active and I live to stay active,” said Cleveland. “Even before this tournament format, I’ve always tried to stay busy and fight every two or three months.

“Perseverance and consistency got me to where I’m at now. Now it’s my job to keep performing to the top of my abilities and keep getting opportunities to fight at a high level. I’m grateful for the opportunity to fight and I’m going to continue to show the world that I belong.”

On Saturday in Long Beach, Calif., Cleveland (19-10-1) will step into the PFL playoffs first in a quarterfinal match against fellow vet Vinny Magalhaes (16-9) in a main card 205-pound bout.

“He’s a very dangerous grappler,” Cleveland said of Magalhaes. “He’s one of the top grapplers in the world. In my own regard, I’m a dangerous striker.

“It will be a classic grappler versus striker match-up, but I think we both bring to the table a little more than what you see on paper. I’m excited to face a world-class opponent like Vinny and stepping into the cage with him.”

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While the winner of his bout with Magalhaes will advance the same night in the playoff format, Cleveland is focused on one fight at a time and will look to the next match-up only after his immediate one is over.

“Right now, it’s one fight at a time,” said Cleveland. “If I get past Vinny, I’m fighting again later that night. In that aspect, you have to be narrow-minded. You can’t really plan after the first fight.

“I’m definitely focusing on Vinny. I have to get past him before I can make any plans for anything anyway. I’m focusing on the skillset to beat him. My next opponent, I feel sorry for them because I feel Vinny is the toughest opponent in my side of the bracket.”

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