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PFL 2018 playoffs: Heavyweight and featherweight tournament previews

It all begins to dwindle down, as heavyweights and featherweights vie for the million dollar jackpot in the PFL playoffs.

This year’s inaugural Professional Fighters League run has been an odd set of experiments and surprises. Some, quite understandably, have been misfires. On the other hand, the majority have been unpredictably fun, with some amazing upsets and devastating finishes.

But now the stakes get even higher, with the field narrowing down and the three playoff events taking place this month. Everyone here is fighting for a spot in the finals for December for all the marbles in the form of the million dollar jackpot.

The biggest thing to look for here is just how much wear and tear these fighters have at this point. They’ve all fought already not long ago, facing quick turnarounds and some have had some grueling fights. In order to reach the final, you’ll have to win the quarterfinals and semifinals on the same night.

Main event honors go to the impressively resurgent Francimar Barroso, who was released by the UFC and gained back to back wins in PFL. His most recent effort ended in an arm triangle finish over Jack May in mid-July, with his striking and defensive efforts being much more improved. He faces Josh Copeland, whose heavy wrestling-based approach netted him a decision win over Shawn Jordan that same night.

Argentina’s Nazareno Malegarie (35-5) pulled off an impressive debut in PFL against fellow veteran Marcos Galvão, then lost a decision to Andre Harrison. Now he’s up against Steven Siler (31-17), the man Bas Rutten has called the Comeback Kid due to his propensity to come back from deep deficits. Siler racked up two very intense consecutive victories over former World Series Of Fighting champion Alexandre de Almeida and Russian prospect Magomed Idrisov, both by submission. Malegarie has shown he’s dangerous everywhere but has sharpened his positional grappling to do consistent damage.

Former UFC heavyweight Jack May (10-4) fights former UFC middleweight Alex Nicholson (12-6) in a weird battle between heavy hitters. Alexandre de Almeida (19-8) faces former UFC fighter Jumabieke Tuerxun (19-8, 1 draw), who is winless in the PFL but is replacing the injured Timur Valiev. His previous fight saw him lose to Lance Palmer by rear naked choke.

A duel between Brazilians is on this card, when Bellator light heavyweight Philipe Lins (11-3) makes his return against 12-3 Caio Alencar. Super-athlete Andre Harrison (19-0) locks horns with wizard Alexandre Bezerra (22-5), and hard-hitting Kelvin Tiller shows that he’s not undersized as a heavyweight when he’ll try to stay upright against Jared Rosholt (16-5).

Lance Palmer (14-3) continues to look impressive with three straight wins in PFL, the last two being rear-naked chokes. Palmer’s been a joy to watch for grappling fans, and his overall MMA game has developed nicely. His next opponent is Max Coga, who mauled Marcos Galvao in the regular season.

Former Strikeforce fighter Mike Kyle (23-16) takes on former Ultimate Fighter contestant Mo De’Reese (6-0). De’Reese is best remembered by his PFL debut, where he sent Leroy Johnson to the hospital. Literally.

Finally, former Bellator kingpin Marcos Galvão takes on Canada’s Jeremy Kennedy (12-1). Kennedy made a pit stop in Brave CF after his UFC tenure, which saw him released from the company after a loss to Alex Volkanovski despite a 3-1 UFC run. He takes on a very seasoned veteran that may not take the same kind of punches, but still always has something in his bag of tricks.

Bout order (subject to change):

Francimar Barroso vs Josh Copeland - Heavyweight

Steven Siler vs Nazareno Malegarie - Featherweight

Jack May vs Alex Nicholson - Heavyweight

Alexandre de Almeida vs Tuerxun Jumabieke - Featherweight

Philipe Lins vs Caio Alencar - Featherweight

Andre Harrison vs Alexandre Bezerra - Featherweight

Kelvin Tiller vs Jared Rosholt - Heavyweight

Lance Palmer vs Max Coga - Featherweight

Mo De’Reese vs Mike Kyle - Heavyweight

Marcos Galvão vs Jeremy Kennedy - Featherweight

Brackets:

PFL# 8: Playoffs begin this Friday night at 7:30 PM ET on their Facebook page, with the main card at 10:00pm ET on NBC Sports Network.