Last call for championship contention this week as PFL sets up their Halloween special, with no sweets being passed around for anyone. Just lumps and lumps from the big boys this time around as heavyweights and light heavyweights sort out just who will be squaring off in the finals on New Year’s Eve in New York City.
Again, like the other tournaments in the men’s division, competitors will be fighting twice in one night. The potential for chaos is still high, and the matchups are pretty tough all-around.
Former UFC talent Alex Nicholson (14-8) started the year with a split decision loss to another former UFC fighter in Francimar Barroso (24-7, 1 draw) but came back with a vengeance against Ezekiel Wily to end up here. Now he’s got a chance to avenge that loss as he fights Francimar again, using his power striking and durability. Barroso is now looking like he’s really hit his prime at 39, oddly enough. Everything has been fallen into place for him with his boxing, control grappling and fight IQ serving him well in his two years in PFL.
Judo superstar Satoshi Ishii (22-9, 1 draw) also got an win against Ezekiel Wily this year, followed by a split decision loss against Jared Rosholt in a fight I already forgot and that you would be best served to forget as well. Meanwhile, his opponent Denis Goltsov (24-5) ruined Rosholt back in June, and came back two months later to slap an Ezekiel choke on super-tough Kelvin Tiller.
Speaking of Rosholt (18-7), he’s up against Mo De’Reese (18-7), who had a very violent ending to his last outing against Valdrin Istrefi. Kelvin Tiller (11-3) gets another sturdy grappler in Ali Isaev, who has back to back decision wins this year against Carl Seumanutafa and Valdrin Istrefi.
Jordan Johnson (11-1) bet on himself when he left the UFC and joined the PFL fold, losing by decision in his debut to established veteran Maxim Grishin. He went on to beat Sigi Pesaleli by decision, all to earn a rematch against Grishin (30-7, 1 draw), who still has a reliable overall game and a showstopper of a right hand.
Another Well travelled Russian in Viktor Nemkov (30-7) is still using his complete skillset to notch wins over powerful opponents like Rakim Cleveland and younger athletes like Rashid Yusupov (11-2), both defeated by decision. Now he’s looking ahead to Bozigit Ataev (21-4), who started the year by avenging a knockout loss last year against Dan Spohn. It was a great look for the 40-year-old vet, but he subsequently got nuked by Emiliano Sordi in their August rematch from last year.
As for Sordi? The Argentine has looked unstoppable this year with back to back dynamite wins stopping a standing Vinny Magalhães, and the win over Ataev mentioned above. At (19-8), he’s up against Sigi Pesaleli in a heavily mismatched bout in which both fighters deserve better.
You can also check out the weigh-ins here:
Full card is as follows, with bout order subject to change:
Alex Nicholson (234.6) vs. Francimar Barroso (228.6)
Denis Golstov (239.0) vs. Satoshi Ishii (230.6)
Muhammed DeReese (248.2) vs. Jared Rosholt (254.0)
Kelvin Tiller (266.0) vs. Ali Isaev (264.4)
Vinny Magalhaes (205.0) vs. Rashid Yusupov (204.4)
Maxim Grishin (205.4) vs. Jordan Johnson (205.4)
Bozigit Ataev (205.0) vs. Viktor Nemkov (206.0)
Emiliano Sordi (205.8) vs Sigi Pesaleli (204.8)