The Professional Fighters League wrapped up its semifinals late Friday night — a high school football game ran long and PFL opted to wait it out, thus delaying the main card start time — and now we know all 12 finalists for this fall’s season finale.
Two former UFC fighters are in position for a $1 million prize at the end of this long journey. One of them is Chris Wade, who took a decision over Bubba Jenkins in Friday’s featherweight semifinals, and he’ll take on Movlid Khaybulaev after his decision win over Brendan Loughnane. You may recall Loughnane was denied at UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series for shooting on a takedown late in a fight he was comfortably winning. Well this time Loughnane was the one getting taken down and even though he stunned Khaybulaev in the final round he failed to capitalize.
The other UFC veteran is Antonio Carlos Junior. ‘Shoeface’ defeated 2019 champion Emiliano Sordi by unanimous decision in a grueling fight and will face Norway’s Marthin Hamlet. Now there’s a bit of an interesting story here because Hamlet TKO’d Cezar Ferreira in 13 seconds, but the whole sequence started after Ferreira seemingly injured his hamstring throwing a kick. He took an awkward step back and fell down, prompting Hamlet to pounce for the finish. Again, I remind you that there was a one-hour main card delay for football and this was the first fight on the lineup.
WOW... Cezar Ferreira pulls his hamstring 6 seconds into the fight and gets TKO'd by Marthin Hamlet! pic.twitter.com/c27F78rZda— ❌❌❌ (@FTBVids_YT) August 28, 2021
This led to an accusation from Chris Camozzi, who won on the prelims and beat Ferreira in the regular season, that Ferreira took a dive. Had Ferreira not been able to fight, Camozzi would’ve been the alternate.
Huh. That’s a dive by Cezar. I saw him at the weigh ins, black and purple leg. My coaches saw it too. He showed up for a show paycheck @PFLMMA can’t believe they cleared him to fight— Chris Camozzi (@ChrisCamozzi) August 28, 2021
Whatever the case, Hamlet benefits and is in the light heavyweight final.
As for the other four finals, Raush Manfio has lived a charmed life on the judges’ scorecards and is in the lightweight final against Loik Radzhabov, who lost in the 2019 final to Natan Schulte. Kayla Harrison is predictably in the women’s lightweight final and will be a monstrous favorite over Taylor Guardado, who beat short notice replacement Mariana Morais.
At welterweight, Magomed Magomedkerimov will once against meet Ray Cooper III. Magomed won the 2018 final against Cooper III and would’ve faced him in the 2019 semifinals had he not withdrawn after the quarterfinals — you had to win two fights in one night prior to 2021. Magomedkerimov dispatched Sadibou Sy in this year’s semis, while Cooper III easily defeated a rather uninspired Rory MacDonald.
Lastly, the heavyweight finalists are Brazil’s Bruno Cappelozza and Croatia’s Ante Delija. Cappelozza stopped Jamelle Jones in two rounds, while Delija bested Denis Goltsov by unanimous decision. You may recall Delija was supposed to be in the UFC last October against Ciryl Gane, but PFL insisted he was still under contract with them. I think this worked out for Delija in the end.
The 2021 PFL Finals take place on Wednesday, October 27th on ESPN2. Claressa Shields’ second MMA fight is also scheduled for this card.
Featherweight: Movlid Khaybulaev vs. Chris Wade
Men’s Lightweight: Raush Manfio vs. Loik Radzhabov
Women’s Lightweight: Kayla Harrison vs. Taylor Guardado
Welterweight: Magomed Magomedkerimov vs. Ray Cooper III
Light Heavyweight: Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Marthin Hamlet
Heavyweight: Bruno Cappelozza vs. Ante Delija