PFL rolls out week 3 to being both of their heaviest divisions taking center stage this week.
While there’s some interesting action to check out, there’s one thing of note that needs to be mentioned from the outset: some of these matches aren’t the most competitive.
There’s a lot of reasons for this that we don’t need to get into here, but on paper, there’s some very, very tough matchups for some of the competitors here. Now, we’ve had some wild upsets so far in only two events, including some previous tournament champs that appeared somewhat unbeatable losing in some eye-opening upsets. Can that happen here as well? Absolutely. But there’s no reason to bet the kid’s college fund on the long shots that we’ll be seeing this week.
First up we’ve got former UFC champ Fabricio Werdum (24-9, 1 draw) making his PFL debut against fellow newcomer (and fellow Brazilian) Renan Ferreira (6-2). The record disparity is worth pointing out, but Renan’s a tough 31-year-old Team Nogueira certified finisher that’s never won a fight by decision. His second loss was a DQ due to illegal strikes, but his other loss was a submission defeat at the hands of Vinicius Moreira. Should he manage to avoid getting tangled up with the man that perhaps may have the best submission game in heavyweight history, he could boost his profile instantly and lunge ahead of the pack. As for Werdum, this is yet another restart since leaving the UFC last year after his win over Alexander Gustafsson.
Kayla Harrison (8-0) is the crown jewel of the women’s side of PFL, being the most high-profile athlete and a two time PFL tournament champ. She’s almost a lock to get her 2021 started with what frankly can be described as the most lopsided mismatch thus far. Mariana Moraes (16-10) racked up an impressive early record feasting on middling to not-so-good opposition. She made her Invicta debut and got trounced by Roxanne Modafferi, and has unfortunately stumbled against any notable opposition she’s faced. Despite facing Karol Rosa, Ariane Lipski, Vanessa Porto, Lara Procopio and Norma Dumont, she’s failed to win a bout against any of them. Despite a three-win streak, she should be the biggest underdog not only on this card, but perhaps in PFL’s short history.
Bringing her into the tournament should keep her busy and perhaps allow her to win a fight or two, but barring some odd freak injury or extraordinarily unusual circumstances, this won’t be the fight for it to happen.
Mohammed Usman (7-1) is another curious addition to the roster. The brother of UFC champ Kamaru Usman, he’s a strong and heavy wrestler training out of Fortis MMA. He’s got some finishes on his record, but mostly fights smart and doesn’t force the finish. But when that opening presents itself? The guy shows that power really seems to run in the family.
Former Invicta fighter (and matchmaker) Kaitlin Young (11-10, 1 draw) brings her strong striking style against grappler Cindy Dandois (16-5). Former Jungle Fight champ and RIZIN talent Bruno Cappelozza (10-5) meets former M-1, RIZIN and KSW menace “Walking Trouble“ Ante Delija (17-3) in what should be a rough battle.
Denis Goltsov (25-6) is one of PFL’s most dangerous heavyweights, and he’ll face the very dynamic Mo DeReese (8-2). Taylor Guardado’s impressive amateur record got her into the Invicta Phoenix Rising tournament after an extended layoff, and despite officially being 0-1 as a pro, her performances in that tournament landed her here. She meets fellow Invicta alum Helena Kolesnyk (5-2).
You can watch the weigh-ins right here:
Full card is as follows:
Fabricio Werdum (241.4) vs. Renan Ferreira (252) - Heavyweight
Kayla Harrison (155.2) vs. Mariana Morais (153) - Lightweight
Brandon Sayles (264.2) vs. Mohammed Usman (239) - Heavyweight
Larissa Pacheco (155.2) vs. Julija Pajic (155.8) - Lightweight
Bruno Cappelozza (234) vs. Ante Delija (233.2) - Heavyweight
Cindy Dandois (153) vs. Kaitlin Young (155) - Lightweight
Genah Fabian (155.8) vs. Laura Sanchez (155.4) - Lightweight
Muhammed DeReese (257.6) vs. Denis Goltsov (240.4) - Heavyweight
Taylor Guardado (154.6) vs. Helena Kolesnyk (155.2) - Lightweight
Kyron Bowen (170.8) vs. Magomed Umalatov (170.2) - Welterweight
Prelims start at 5:30pm EST streaming on ESPN+, and the main card starts at 9:00pm on ESPN.