Emiliano Sordi is one fight away from capping off a flawless 2019.

His path was anything but set in stone and just 12 months ago it looked like Sordi was on his way to becoming an MMA also-ran. Unquestionably talented, but unable to meaningfully put the pieces together when it mattered most.

The 28-year-old just kept falling short despite earning some major opportunities. He had an uneventful three-fight run with Bellator, saw his UFC hopes dashed when he lost on the Contender Series in just 26 seconds to Ryan Spann, and then failed to make the playoffs in his first season with the PFL. Sordi finished 2018 with a 17-8 pro record and losses in four of his previous eight bouts. It was hardly the stuff of a future champion.

And yet that’s exactly what Sordi will be when the New Year rolls around if he can beat Jordan Johnson in the 2019 PFL light heavyweight tournament finals Tuesday at Madison Square Garden in New York City. He finished both of his regular season bouts and both of his playoff bouts and is now one win away from a PFL title and a $1,000,000 prize.

Three years ago, Sordi made the move from Argentina to San Diego to take his game to the next level, and while having more fighters his size to work with and elite training partners like Phil Davis has helped him between the fences, he gives just as much credit to his mental coach Ariel Sendral for helping him get sorted out between the ears.

“It was either go to a mental coach or quit fighting,” Sordi told MMA Fighting via a translator. “Because I wasn’t feeling the adrenaline going into a fight.”