PFL will make their return on Friday night, kicking off their 2021 featherweight and lightweight seasons from the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA.
Coming back after an absence from the scene last year, PFL is running their third season-based format that is similar to how other sports operate. The event on Friday is the first of six regular-season shows that the promotion has set to happen, which allow fighters a chance to compete for points that can push them into the playoffs later in the year.
Follow along throughout the evening for live updates.
Preliminary Card (5:30PM EDT) (ESPN+ / TSN GO)
Main Card (9:00PM EDT) (ESPN 2 / TSN 2)
Bout 10: Anthony Pettis (24-10) vs. Clay Collard (18-8) (Lightweight)
Collard Defeats Former UFC Champion Pettis, Capping Off Night of Upsets
Clay Collard’s fast and damaging striking spoiled the PFL debut for Anthony Pettis, defeating him via unanimous decision in the main event of Friday’s PFL card (29-27, 29-27 & 29-28).
The win for Collard, which was an upset according to oddsmakers, came after a night that saw PFL’s former lightweight and featherweight champions lose to underdogs.
The majority of the fight saw Collard out-class Pettis on the feet. Pettis often had no match for Collard’s quick fists, which would come in combinations that would back him up. Collard’s punches overwhelmed Pettis in the second round, causing him to shell up and drop to the floor two times, nearly resulting in the finish to their fight.
Pettis seemingly came close to finishing the fight late, landing a head kick that floored Collard. Pettis was able to follow up with a knee to the head of Collard once he got up and took the fight to the ground after, but Collard was able to then heal and eventually return to the feet.
Pettis was making his PFL debut after nearly a decade in the UFC. His run in the promotion finished with two wins, as he defeated Donald Cerrone and Alex Morono.
Collard did not compete in MMA last year, although he fought in boxing six times, resulting in five wins. The former UFC fighter last competed under MMA rules in 2019, where he defeated two fighters on the regional scene.
Collard, like every lightweight that won on Friday, was given three points in the PFL standings.
Bout 9: Natan Schulte (20-3-1) vs. Marcin Held (26-7) (Lightweight)
Held Defeats Two-Time PFL Champ Schulte Via Scorecard
Marcin Held won his PFL debut on Friday, defeating two-time PFL champion Natan Schulte on scorecards (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28). The decision came after a hectic three-round fight that saw both competitors maintain a high output of strikes throughout.
Similar to what was seen earlier in the evening with two-time PFL champ Lance Palmer, Schulte was given his first loss through three seasons in PFL.
Schulte had a seven-fight win streak broken with the loss. The streak includes two five-round wins, where he won the PFL championship in 2018 and 2019.
Held, a former UFC fighter, now has five consecutive wins. Previous victories in his run include wins over notable names like Nasrat Haqparast and Diego Brandao.
Bout 8: Movlid Khaybulaev (15-0-1) vs. Lazar Stojadinovic (14-7) (Featherweight)
Khaybulaev Defeats Stojadinovic With Wrestling
Movlid Khaybulaev’s wrestling helped him grind Lazar Stojadinovic for three rounds for a unanimous decision win on Friday (30-27,30-27 & 30-27). Khaybulaev put down an overwhelming amount of ground control, landing punches while keeping Stojadinovic on the ground.
Khaybulaev competed in PFL’s 2019 season, getting eliminated in the playoffs by Daniel Pineda. The loss was overturned later in the year, as Pineda failed a drug test done by the Nevada Athletic Commission.
Khaybulaev competed once during PFL’s offseason last year, defeating Zaka Fatullazade on a UAE Warrors card.
Stojadinovic got the PFL call-up after earning two wins last year in regional promotion Global Legion FC. He was filling in for Jason Soares, who withdrew from the card on short notice.
Bout 7: Lance Palmer (22-3) vs. Bubba Jenkins (14-4) (Featherweight)
Jenkins Hands Two-Time PFL Champ Palmer First Loss Since 2017
Bubba Jenkins kicked off his PFL career with a big win, defeating two-time champion Lance Palmer via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27). The victory handed Palmer his first loss in 11 bouts.
The dominant victory for Jenkins came from his ability to control Palmer with his wrestling and hold his own on the feet with strikes.
Palmer had not lost since PFL’s season-based restructuring in 2018. He has won the promotion’s 2018 and 2019 seasons, putting together perfect records in both years.
Jenkins, a former Brave CF Featherweight Champion, entered the fight on a three-fight win streak that he earned in other promotions.
Bout 6: Brendan Loughnane (19-3) vs. Sheymon Moraes (11-4) (Featherweight)
Loughnane Becomes Top Featherweight With Quick Win Over Moraes
Brendan Loughnane thrust himself to the top of the featherweight rankings in the final preliminary bout, scoring six points with a first-round victory over Sheymon Moraes.
Loughnane showed his heavy fists with the finish, backing Moraes up and landing a quick tempo of punches that eventually dropped him, ending the fight.
Loughnane became the first person in the evening to score more than three points from a win, as a finish victory scores you from four to six points. Because of this, he is now the top featherweight in the standings.
Loughnane picked up wins in the PFL in 2019, although he was not part of the season format that year.
Moraes, a former UFC fighter, is now on a three-fight losing streak.
Bout 5: Joilton Lutterbach (34-8) vs. Raush Manfio (11-3) (Lightweight)
Short-Notice Opponent Manfio Defeats Lutterbach On Scorecards
Raush Manfio prevailed in a close battle on the prelims to defeat Joilton Lutterbach in his PFL debut (29-28 Lutterbach, 29-28 Manfio & 29-28 Manfio).
Manfio entered the event on short notice, replacing Olivier Aubin-Mercier, who departed the card due to injury. The former Titan FC Lightweight Champion was competing for the first time since he lost his regional belt to Sidney Outlaw in 2018.
Lutterbach entered the bout after putting together a four-fight win streak through the past two years.
Bout 4: Akhmet Aliev (19-6) vs. Mikhail Odintsov (18-2) (Lightweight)
Aliev Secures Three Points With Win Over Odintsov
Akhmet Aliev had a strong performance over Mikhail Odintsov to kick off his second PFL season, winning on scorecards after three rounds (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28).
Striking was what Aliev succeeded with the most in the fight. He nearly stopped Odintsov late in the first round, dropping him with a right hand.
Aliev was guaranteed a minimum of three points for the fight due to Odintsov missing weight on Thursday.
Aliev fought in the 2019 PFL season, being eliminated in the semifinals of the playoffs by Natan Schulte.
Odintsov had a seven-fight win streak stopped with the fight. It was noted on the broadcast that he entered the fight without his usual team, which couldn’t make it to the event.
Bout 3: Chris Wade (17-6) vs. Anthony Dizy (13-3) (Featherweight)
Wade Starts Third PFL Run With Decision Win
Chris Wade’s damage against Anthony Dizy earned him a decision win on the prelims, winning two rounds on all judge’s scorecards (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28).
While Dizy had strong wrestling that was able to earn him control throughout, Wade was able to eventually counter with strikes that caused visible damage.
The 2021 season is Wade’s third for the PFL, although his first since dropping down from lightweight. His 2019 run started hot with three consecutive wins, although it later finished with a loss to Loik Radzhabov in the semifinals of the playoffs.
Dizy made his PFL debut after two wins on the regional scene in 2019.
Bout 2: Jo Sungbin (9-1) vs. Tyler Diamond (11-1) (Featherweight)
Diamond Previals Over Jo In Hectic Battle
Tyler Diamond defeated Jo Sungbin via unanimous decision after having the better strikes and wrestling in a back-and-forth battle (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27). The win saw Diamond overcome large amounts of adversity, nearly being stopped by Jo in the third frame.
Diamond was almost finished early in the third round, as Jo dropped him with an overhand right. Diamond used his wrestling to score takedowns and stop Jo’s momentum afterward. Diamond nearly scored a finish of his own late in the round when scoring with persistent ground and pound strikes.
Diamond and Jo had fast back-and-forth exchange on the feet during the first and second rounds. Numerous leg kicks from Diamond caused Jo to get wobbled or limp at points.
Jo was making his PFL debut after over a year outside of the cage. His last appearance saw him lose his UFC debut to Daniel Teymur in 2019.
Diamond was entering PFL after two wins on the regional scene last year.
Bout 1: Loik Radzhabov (13-2-1) vs. Alex Martinez (7-0) (Lightweight)
Submission Attempts And Strikes Earn Martinez Split Decision Win Against Radzhabov
Alex Martinez’s work on the ground against Loik Radzhabov earned him a split decision win, scoring him three points in the lightweight division (29-28 Martinez, 29-28 Radzhabov & 30-27 Martinez).
The result, which shocked Radzhabov and his team, extended Martinez’s undefeated record to eight consecutive wins.
Radzhabov often had the dominant positions on the ground, although Martinez would do more in the positions with strikes and submission attempts.
Martinez was able to get Radzhabov in trouble for moments in the fight, pulling guard a couple times to attempt a guillotine choke. There were other moments where Martinez attempted submissions despite not being in the dominant position, like a triangle choke that he attempted late in the second round.
Radzhabov’s ability to clinch and score takedowns against Martinez was shown during all three rounds. Radzhabov scored seven takedowns in total, per PFL statistics.
Martinez entered the 2021 PFL season on short notice, replacing Johnny Case. The three points he was given was the minimum a fighter can be awarded for a win, with finishes in previous rounds awarding higher numbers.
Radzhabov made it to the finals in his previous PFL season, losing to Natan Schulte in the grand finals.