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PFL 2019 #5: Regular Season - Wade vs Aliev preview

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A promising card meant to move the lightweight and featherweight tournaments along has been plagued by weight problems.

WSOF/Lucas Noonan

While PFL hasn’t had a lot of trouble with injuries this year, they’ve run into multiple setbacks concerning fighters not passing medicals and/or missing weight for events.

And boy howdy, the weight thing is really becoming a recurring problem. Especially since in the PFL system, if a fighter misses weight, their tournament bout is automatically scrapped.

This time around, Carlao Silva, Ramsey Nijem, and Gadzhi Rabanadov all failed to hit the lightweight mark for PFL #5, which takes place this Thursday, July 25th. That means their fights against Jesse Ronson, Natan Schulte, and Daniel Pineda – respectively – have been cancelled. Pineda gets an automatic 3 points and moves on in the tournament, while Ronson and Schulte will now fight each other on a day’s notice.

That inconsistency has caused some controversy. Especially from Ronson’s camp, as he will now face last year’s champion on short notice—instead of also being granted a walkover like Pineda. His agent expressed his concerns over the booking on Twitter.

Controversy aside, it’s a very fun fight for the PFL to book. Schulte’s (16-3, 1 draw) first fight of 2019 was a submission win over Yincang Bao via rear naked choke. Ronson (20-8) will be making his PFL debut, in what will be his first fight since last September—where he defeated Michael Dufort in Canada’s TKO organization.

Another Canadian will look to stay in the hunt at featherweight. Former UFC fighter and nutrition savant Jeremy Kennedy (13-2) faces fellow UFC alum Steven Siler (32-1, 1 draw). Kennedy and Siler will be looking to right the ship from recent losses. Kennedy suffered an upset TKO to Luis Laurentino back in May, while Siler is coming off dropping a decision to Gadzhi Rabadanov.

Freddy Assunçao (10-1), brother of UFC fighter Rafael, makes his return to MMA after a lengthy hiatus. After submitting Gesias “JZ“ Cavalcante at Titan FC 40 in August of 2016, Freddy steps back in to take on mid-western featherweight and former Contender Series participant Alex Gilpin (12-2). Gilpin’s a rugged submission specialist that won his Contender Series fight last year against JR Coughran, but didn’t get a contract with the UFC. His PFL debut was a rough one, however. He ended up with a loss to former WSOF and PFL champ Lance Palmer back in May, by decision.

The aforementioned Luis Laurentino has put together an impressive record of finishes, shocking many with his PFL debut win, in which he blasted Jeremy Kennedy. This time around, he’ll be up against the stiffest test of his career, taking on former WSOF champion Lance Palmer (18-3).

Movlid Khaibulaev pulled off a knockout of the year candidate early after stunning veteran Damon Jackson. Now he’ll be up against hard-nosed wrestler Andre Harrison (21-1). Submission ace Nate Andrews (15-2) didn’t have things go his way in his PFL debut, but will try to get back in the win column against the very talented Rashid Magomedov (23-3). Former WSOF champ Alexandre de Almeida (20-9) will try to stave off hungry striker Peter Petties (8-5), and UFC vet Chris Wade (15-5) returns to action against Fight Nights Global vet Akhmet Aliev (18-4), who is a threat everywhere and at any time.

Full card now stands as follows:

Akhmet Aliev vs Chris Wade - Lightweight
Lance Palmer vs Luis Rafael Laurentino - Featherweight
Nate Andrews vs Rashid Magomedov - Lightweight
Freddy Assunçao vs Alex Gilpin - Featherweight
Steven Siler vs Jeremy Kennedy - Featherweight
Natan Schulte vs Jesse Ronson - Lightweight
Andre Harrison vs Movlid Khaibulaev - Featherweight
Islam Mamedov vs Yincan Bao - Lightweight
Alexandre de Almeida vs Peter Petties - Featherweight
Loik Radzhabov vs Ylies Djiroun - Lightweight

PFL 2019 #5: Wade vs Aliev takes place this Thursday night, with prelims streaming live on ESPN+ at 6:00pm EST and the main card televised on ESPN 2.