Here’s the final stretch of the PFL’s 2021 run, and it’s a wild one.
Kayla Harrison remains undefeated at 10-0, and will be looking to make her way to the million dollar jackpot once again. But the only thing standing between her and the final showdown is a battle with ever-improving striker Genah Fabian (4-1).
Fabian’s a tough out with her athleticism, size, frame and striking ability, but how long will she be able to remain upright? Will she be ready for a ground battle against a world-class grappler like Harrison? It would be a tremendous shock if the City Kickboxing product were to earn an upset here against Harrison, and this year has been unpredictable enough for something like this to happen.
On the other side of the women’s bracket, we have Taylor Guardado (2-1). After earning two decisions this year over Helena Kolesnyk and Laura Sanchez, she was slated to fight the devastating power puncher Larissa Pacheco. Unfortunately, Pacheco was unable to make weight and will be replaced by Mariana Morais (17-11). Morais started her year getting beaten on the ground by Kayla Harrison, then edged out a decision win over Kaitlin Young. Despite her advantage as far as pro experience, she’s not as athletic or precise as Guardado. And Guardado’s amateur experience has given her plenty of cage time, so she’s more than capable of dragging others into very deep water. That’s just not where Morais does best.
It could still be a banger, though. Morais loves to come forward and trains with former UFC champ Jessica Andrade. Guardado fights out of Xtreme Couture and uses her striking and wrestling very, very effectively. So while Guardado should be the clear favorite, Morais might make this fun.
As far as the heavyweight field goes, Bruno Cappelozza has been the most fun revelation of the year. Now at 12-5, he blazed his way here with finishes over Mo De’Reese and Ante Delija. And he looked great doing it, too. He’s up against powerhouse athlete Jamelle Jones (12-6), who has a lot to offer and can blitz in hard to catch Bruno off-guard.
Speaking of Delija (18-4), he’s got his hands full with Denis Goltsov (27-6). Both are skilled finishers with slick technique and keep calm under pressure. Goltsov is just more composed and accurate with his strikes, while Delija brings more athleticism and excellent counters when he draws opponents into a firefight.
England’s Stuart Austin (15-6) makes his PFL debut against villain of the year Renan Fereira (7-2), in a heavyweight tilt that could either provide some fun action or turn into a slow kickboxing match. Marina Mokhnatkina (5-2) is back, and she’s got a tall order (see what I did there?) against Kaitlin Young (12-11). Finally Carl Seumanutafa (12-13) meets Mo De’Reese (8-4) in a what is almost guaranteed to be a firefight.
As usual, you can check out the weigh-ins right here:
Main Card (ESPN2/ESPN+, 9 PM ET)
Kayla Harrison (155.5) vs. Genah Fabian (156) – Lightweight semifinal
Bruno Cappelozza (235.5) vs. Jamelle Jones (250.75) – Heavyweight semifinal
Taylor Guardado (155.5) vs. Mariana Morais (153.5) – Lightweight semifinal
Ante Delija (244.5) vs. Denis Goltsov (250) – Heavyweight semifinal
Preliminary Card (ESPN+, 6 PM ET)
Stuart Austin (246.5) vs. Renan Ferreira (252.75) - Heavyweight
Muhammed DeReese (252) vs. Carl Seumanutafa (260.5) - Heavyweight
Marina Mokhnatkina (156) vs. Claudia Zamora (148.75) - Lightweight
Miranda Barber (155.25) vs. Amanda Leve (153.5) - Lightweight
Jonas Flok (155.5) vs. Christian Lohsen (156) - Lightweight
PFL 2021 Playoffs: Harrison vs Fabian starts at 6:00pm EST streaming live on ESPN+. That will be followed by the main card, which starts at 9:00pm EST and will be broadcast on ESPN2 with a simulcast on ESPN+.