PFL’s heavyweight and lightweight divisions are scheduled to kick off on Thursday night at the promotion’s third event of the year. The 10-fight card from the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA includes names like 2019 PFL champ Kayla Harrison and former UFC fighter Fabricio Werdum.
Follow along throughout the evening for live updates.
Early Prelims (5:30PM EDT) (ESPN+ / TSN GO)
Preliminary Card (7:00PM EDT) (ESPN / TSN GO)
Main Card (9:00PM EDT) (ESPN / TSN 5)
Bout 10: Fabricio Werdum (24-9-1) vs. Renan Ferreira (6-2) (Heavyweight)
Ferreira Defeats Former UFC Fighter Werdum In Controversial Stoppage
Renan Ferreira started his first PFL season with a big win, defeating former interim UFC Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum in the first round. While his win looked dominant at first, replays afterwards that showed him tap out at one point caused controversy.
The finish for Ferreria came after he escaped a triangle choke that was threatening him. He then increased his output of hammerfist punches on Werdum, which forced the referee to end the fight eventually.
There was debate after the fight, as the replay showed that Ferreria seemingly tapped out on Werdum while in the triangle choke.
“I think everybody saw the fight, he tapped,” said Werdum in his post-fight interview.
The bout was Werdum’s first appearance outside of the UFC since 2011. He exited the promotion on a high note, submitting Alexander Gustafsson in July.
Like Werdum, Ferreria was making his PFL debut on Thursday. He had last fought in 2019, where he submitted Jared Vanderaa in the main event of an LFA card.
Bout 9: Kayla Harrison (8-0) vs. Mariana Morais (16-10) (Lightweight)
2019 Champ Harrison Starts New Season With Six Points
Kayla Harrison started her campaign towards a second PFL championship in strong fashion in the co-main event, finishing Mariana Morais within a round. Harrison was quick to take the fight to the ground, where she unloaded with ground and pound that eventually finished the bout.
Harrison had a flawless run in PFL’s 2019 season, putting together four consecutive wins to become the promotion’s inaugural womens lightweight champion.
Morais joined the PFL roster this year after putting together numerous wins in regional promotion Shooto Brasil. Previous bouts in her career included appearances in Invicta FC and KSW.
Bout 8: Mohammed Usman (7-1) vs. Brandon Sayles (5-1) (Heavyweight)
Sayles Scores Two Knockdowns, Earns Submission In PFL Debut
Brandon Sayles showcased his strong striking and grappling, choking Mohammed Usman out in the second round after scoring two knockdowns.
Sayles scored a clean knockdown halfway through the second round, landing a right hook that floored Usman. He was able to recover following the knockdown, although he was dropped again by punches just minutes later.
Sayles put Usman to sleep after the second knockdown, putting in a rear naked choke that finished the fight.
Both fighters were able to connect with hard punches during exchanges in the first frame. The toughness of the heavyweights was on display, as numerous clean shots were consumed by them.
Usman entered the fight with the momentum of a four-fight win streak in regional MMA promotion Titan FC.
Sayles was competing for the first time since 2018. He had previously strung together three wins on the regional circuit.
Bout 7: Larissa Pacheco (13-4) vs. Julija Pajic (3-0) (Lightweight)
Pacheco Shoots To Top of Lightweight Standings With Quick Win
Larissa Pacheco made a statement at the start of her second PFL season, stopping Julija Pajic within a round to score six points in the lightweight division and move into first place for the time being.
Pacheco dropped Pajic in the opening moments with a left hook. She remained damaging on the ground with punches from the full mount, eventually forcing the fight to end.
Pacheco was a finalist in PFL’s 2019 season, where she lost to Kayla Harrison via unanimous decision.
The fight was Pajic’s first pro loss through four fights. Her three prior bouts were in 2019, where she picked up wins at weight classes as high welterweight.
Bout 6: Ante Delija (17-3) vs. Bruno Cappelozza (10-5) (Heavyweight)
Cappelozza Wins Returning Fight In Under A Minute
A quick combination of punches from Bruno Cappelozza earned him a first-round victory against Ante Delija in his return after years outside of the cage. Putting Delija against the cage, Cappelozza scored a series of hooks that hurt him and made him go limp on the feet for a moment, causing the referee to step in and end the fight.
The win, which came in under a minute for Cappelozza, scored him six points in the PFL season.
The fight was Cappelozza’s first appearance since 2018. He had previously appeared in RIZIN, where he lost to now-UFC fighter Jiri Prochazka.
Delija was also returning to the cage after not fighting in 2020. He had a win streak of three fights prior to then, which included one appearance in PFL.
Bout 5: Cindy Dandois (16-5) vs. Kaitlin Young (11-10-1) (Lightweight)
Young Uses Striking To Defeat Dandois
Veteran fighter Kaitlin Young won her PFL debut on the prelims, defeating fellow experienced competitor Cindy Dandois on scorecards (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27). The win for Young saw her use footwork and great timing to succeed in a fight that was completely on the feet.
Dandois consistently moved forward with strikes through the three-round fight, however, Young did a good job to avoid a lot of the strikes and find pockets of time to answer back with combinations of punches that connected.
Young competed on Thursday after a long run in regional womens MMA promotion Invicta FC.
Dandois entered PFL on a four-fight win streak that she put together in 2019.
Bout 4: Genah Fabian (2-1) vs. Laura Sanchez (1-0) (Lightweight)
Fabian Hands Sanchez First Pro Loss
Genah Fabian prevailed in a slow-paced striking battle against Laura Sanchez to take a unanimous decision win on the prelims (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27).
Fabian had success when striking at a distance and in the clinch position.
Sanchez was hurt late in the fight, as a cut opened around her right eyebrow. The fight heated up in the final minute, as both lightweights connected with hard punches.
Fabian participated in PFL’s 2019 season, putting together a win and a loss in the regular season.
Sanchez joined the PFL roster after winning her pro debut last year against Miranda Barber.
Bout 3: Denis Goltsov (25-6) vs. Mo DeReese (8-2) (Heavyweight)
Goltsov Scores Six Points To Start Third Season With PFL
Denis Goltsov started his 2021 season with six points, taking Mo DeReese out in the first round with strikes. Goltsov’s near one-sided performance came to an end late in the round with a fast pace of ground and pound to DeReese.
DeReese was clearly hurt early in the round, shelling up on the feet while consuming numerous punches and kicks to the head. Goltsov was able to take the fight to the ground eventually, where he unloaded with punches from the back.
The season is Goltsov’s third for the PFL. Goltsov made it to the semifinals of the 2019 season, eventually getting eliminated by Ali Isaev.
DeReese, another veteran of PFL, now has three wins and three losses under the promotion. His fight on Thursday saw him step in for Justin Willis, who withdrew from the card.
Bout 2: Helena Kolesnyk (5-2) vs. Taylor Guardado (0-1) (Lightweight)
Guardado Earns Three PFL Points In First Pro Win
Former Invicta FC fighter Taylor Guardado used her wrestling ability to control Helena Kolesnyk through three rounds and earn a unanimous decision win (29-27, 30-26 & 30-26).
Guardado scored numerous takedowns in the fight. She kept controlling positions on the ground throughout to win the rounds.
Further hurting Kolesnyk’s performance, she was deducted a point in the second round due to an eye poke to Guardado.
Both Kolesnyk and Guardado were making the move up to lightweight for this fight.
The win earned Guardado her first pro win. Her previous fight was a loss, which came in the grand finals of a one-night tournament being held by Invicta FC. Her two previous wins in the bracket, one-round victories, did not count towards her pro record.
Kolesnyk was making her return to action after being out of the cage since 2018. She is now on a two-fight losing streak.
Bout 1: Magomed Umalatov (9-0) vs. Kyron Bowen (9-5) (Welterweight)
Umalatov Stops Bowen With Right Hand In Non-Tournament Fight
Magomed Umalatov moved his undefeated record to double digits on Thursday with a win over Kyron Bowen. The dominant performance for Umalatov came to a quick end early in the second round, as a right hand dropped Bowen.
The welterweight victory for Umalatov was the first and only non-tournament bout to happen on the card.
Umalatov’s first round was a strong showing, keeping Bowen on his back and scoring with ground and pound.
The fight was Umalatov’s debut in PFL. He had previously attained nine wins from 2015 to 2020, including a recent win in EFC.
Bowen is now on a two-fight losing streak. His previous bout was a loss to Collin Huckbody on “Dana White’s Contender Series.”