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PFL 2022 Playoffs 1: Pettis vs Ray preview, weigh-in results

Reaching the final stretch, and things are getting more interesting with each step.

MMA: UFC 249-Pettis vs Cerrone
Will this be vindication for Pettis, or is further disappointment around the bend.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

As PFL (Professional Fighter’s League MMA) enters it’s final phases of the year, we have some excellent matchups and some curious storylines to look forward to. Not only that, but the seeds for 2023 are being planted with some qualifier bouts in a Contender Series-style group of fights to round things out.

Of course, the main attraction is former UFC champ Anthony Pettis (25-13) facing off against Scotland’s Stevie Ray (24-10). Pettis started his year off with a lovely triangle choke win over Myles Price, but suffered a shocking upset loss to Ray after that. Now we have an immediate rematch between a former champ pursuing glory and a fat paycheck at the end of the rainbow, squaring off against a hungry grappler that may have finally reached his peak and might change his fate with a win to prove the first fight wasn’t a fluke.

Another unlikely participant in the postseason is Omari Akhmedov (23-7, 1 draw), who turned his fortunes around in a big way after landing a massive knockout over Viktor Pesta and then putting Teodoras Aukstuolis to sleep with an arm triangle. It’s been a major year for him after a rough stretch, and he hopes to keep his current streak going against Josh Silveira (9-0). Originally this was supposed to be Omari Akhmedov against Antonio Carlos Junior, but Shoeface had to withdraw and now Silveira replaces him. And it’s still a great matchup, because Silveira started the year as part of the ‘PFL Challenger Series’, then joined the main roster to defeat Marthin Hamlet in another shocking upset. The former LFA champ is an American Top Team rep with most wins being finishes and the majority of those are submissions (four of those are rear naked chokes). But he can strike and has excellent knees to the body and head inside, but will be dealing with a far more experienced opponent. This could be a possible fight of the night right here.

Olivier Aubin-Mercier (15-5) edged out two former champs this year in Natan Schulte and Raush Manfio, and the Canadian Gangster remains a savvy vet with a knack for controlling the pace and pushing forward as needed. He takes on Alex Martinez, who has had a surprising bounceback this year defeating Stevie Ray and then feared striker Clay Collard. Both are all-around generalists and tend to fight smart, and this should be a nice technical fight between two very good athletes.

Another fighter that’s had a great turnaround this year is Rob Wilkinson (15-2). First he plowed through Bruce Souto and then he beat the brakes off of Viktor Pesta to follow that up. And his whole mission for the million could be derailed against Delan Monte, a dark horse that lost in the opening bout against Antonio Carlos Junior, but went on to score a massive first round upset over Emiliano Sordi in June. Expect a firefight on the feet for this one.

Finally, Marthin Hamlet (9-4) meets Syndicate MMA rep Cory Hendricks (9-4) at light heavyweight. Hendricks’ lone win in 2022 was a good one, wiping out former champ Emiliano Sordi back in April. Hamlet has a decision win over Aukstuolis and the loss to Josh Silveira noted above.

You can check out the official weigh-ins here:

As well as the ceremonial weigh-ins here:

Main card:

Anthony Pettis (155.6) vs. Stevie Ray (155.8) – Lightweight semifinal

Omari Akhmedov (204.6) vs. Josh Silveira (206) – Light heavyweight semifinal

Olivier Aubin-Mercier (155) vs. Alexander Martinez (156) – Lightweight semifinal

Rob Wilkinson (205.8) vs. Delan Monte (205.2) – Light heavyweight semifinal

Prelims:

Alexei Pergande (155.8) vs. Elvis Quiles (155.8) - Lightweight

Lucas Barbosa (169.6) vs. Elmar Umarov (171) - Welterweight

Ricardo Jimenez (144.2) vs. Brahyan Zurcher (146) – 2023 Challenger Series qualifier

Elvin Espinoza (154.4) vs. Corey Jackson (156) – 2023 Challenger Series qualifier

Postlims:

Marcelo Nunes (244.2) vs. Dylan Potter (255.2) – 2023 Heavyweight qualifier

Marthin Hamlet vs. Cory Hendricks – 2023 Light heavyweight qualifier

Itso Babulaidze (170.8) vs. Mahmoud Sebie (170.8) Welterweight

Preshow and prelims begin this Friday at 5:30pm EST on ESPN+, and the main card will be simulcast on ESPN+ and ESPN starting at 7:00pm. The postlims return to ESPN+ after that.