PFL launched their 2021 season with the plan to showcase six divisions in their season format. Now set to hold their third event on Thursday, the promotion will start the season for the final two weight classes that have yet to compete this year.
PFL’s heavyweight and lightweight divisions will get the start to their 2021 season at Thursday’s card. In the main event, former UFC fighter Fabricio Werdum will battle against Renan Ferreira.
Here’s a full preview of the card, which is set to happen at the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA.
Early Prelims (5:30PM EDT) (ESPN+ / TSN GO)
Bout 1: Magomed Umalatov (9-0) vs. Kyron Bowen (9-5) (Welterweight)
For the first time this year, PFL will showcase a non-tournament bout during the prelims of Thursday’s card. In a welterweight contest, undefeated talent Magomed Umalatov will fight Kyron Bowen.
Umalatov has been a pro since 2015 and has earned all of his wins via stoppage thus far. He is getting the call to compete in PFL after scoring his ninth pro win in late 2020, defeating Rashid Koychakaev.
Bowen had a seven-fight win streak snapped in his last fight, as he lost to Collin Huckbody on the 2020 season of “Dana White’s Contender Series.”
Bout 2: Helena Kolesnyk (5-2) vs. Taylor Guardado (0-1) (Lightweight)
Two former Invicta FC fighters in Helena Kolesnyk and Taylor Guardado will compete in the first lightweight fight of the card.
Guardado made her pro debut last year, starting her career as part of Invicta FC’s one-night “Phoenix Series” tournament format. Guardado advanced past the first two rounds of the bracket, defeating Claire Guthrie and Serena DeJesus in one-round fights that did not count towards her MMA record. She came up short in the finals, losing via decision to Taneisha Tennant.
Kolesnyk will be returning after over two years outside of the cage. She lost her two Invicta FC fights, getting submitted by Pam Sorenson and Felicia Spencer.
Friday’s fight is a significant move up in weight for Guardado, as she previously fought at bantamweight. Kolesnyk is also moving up, coming from the featherweight division.
Preliminary Card (7:00PM EDT) (ESPN / TSN GO)
Bout 3: Denis Goltsov (25-6) vs. Mo DeReese (8-2) (Heavyweight)
The heavyweight bracket will begin with a fight between Denis Goltsov and Mo DeReese.
Goltsov will be making his second push towards a title on Thursday. The heavyweight veteran came close in 2019, winning two regular season fights and defeating Satoshi Ishii in the first round of the playoffs. Goltsov was eliminated in the semifinals by Ali Isaev, who would go on to win the season.
DeReese is one of the many competitors returning for his third season in the PFL. DeReese’s total record through the 2018 and 2019 seasons resulted in three wins and two losses, all coming via stoppage. DeReese entered the card on short notice to replace Justin Willis.
Bout 4: Genah Fabian (2-1) vs. Laura Sanchez (1-0) (Lightweight)
One of the few returning lightweights this year, Genah Fabian, will fight Laura Sanchez on the prelims. Fabian fought twice for PFL in 2019, scoring a win and a loss each.
Sanchez will be making her PFL debut after scoring her first pro win last year. Her pro victory in 2020 came via first-round stoppage, finishing Miranda Barber in January.
Bout 5: Cindy Dandois (16-5) vs. Kaitlin Young (11-10-1) (Lightweight)
A battle between two veterans in Cindy Dandois and Kaitlin Young will take place during the prelims.
Dandois has an extensive record in MMA, including fights in the UFC, Bellator, and RIZIN. She enters the 2021 season with some momentum, having scored four wins on the regional scene in 2019. Dandois usually competes around 135-to-145 pounds, although a move up to 155-pounds is something she has done in her career before.
Young, a fighter with a decade-and-a-half of experience in the cage, is easily one of the most experienced competitors on this card. She has been a regular in Invicta FC as of late, having a record of three wins, five losses and one draw in the promotion.
Young scored a decision win in her last fight, defeating Latoya Walker in July of 2020. Similar to Dandois, Young has fought at 150-pounds but is a regular at lower weight classes.
Bout 6: Ante Delija (17-3) vs. Bruno Cappelozza (10-5) (Heavyweight)
The prelims are set to conclude with a heavyweight fight between Ante Delija and Bruno Cappelozza.
Delija joins the 2021 PFL season on a three-fight win streak. Among the wins was one fight in PFL in 2019, where he defeated Carl Seumanutafa. He last appeared in KSW in a performance that saw him stop Oli Thompson in the second round.
Cappelozza has been out of the fight for a few years now. His last fight dates back to 2018, where now-UFC fighter Jiri Prochazka stopped him with strikes on a RIZIN card.
Main Card (9:00PM EDT) (ESPN / TSN 5)
Bout 7: Larissa Pacheco (13-4) vs. Julija Pajic (3-0) (Lightweight)
Undefeated fighter Julija Pajic will make her PFL debut against 2019 finalist Larissa Pacheco in the opening bout of the main card.
Pacheco competed in PFL’s 2019 lightweight bracket, fighting four times in the year. Her two losses in the run both came against Kayla Harrison – in the first fight of the season and in the grand finals.
Pajic joins the PFL roster with a strong three-fight win streak from 2019. Unlike most fighters in the lightweight division who are moving up to meet lightweight, Pajic is actually coming from after fighting as high as 170-pounds.
Bout 8: Mohammed Usman (7-1) vs. Brandon Sayles (5-1) (Heavyweight)
The first of two heavyweight fights on the main card will be between Mohammed Usman and Brandon Sayles. The bout was moved up to the main program after a fight between 2019 champ Ali Isaev and Hatef Moeil was removed from the lineup.
While Usman is one of the less experienced fighters in the heavyweight division, he is one of the names to look out for. The Fortis MMA product joins the PFL roster after putting together four consecutive wins in Titan FC from 2019 to 2020.
Sayles also has a win streak, having scored three stoppage wins from 2017 to 2018.
Bout 9: Kayla Harrison (8-0) vs. Mariana Morais (16-10) (Lightweight)
Undefeated lightweight and winner of PFL’s 2019 season, Kayla Harrison, will return to action in the co-main event against Mariana Morais.
Since making her pro debut, Harrison has been promoted as a big name in PFL. The two-time Olympic judo champion made her pro debut in 2018 and has seven wins since then. Among those wins was her flawless 2019 season that saw her pick up four straight victories. She fought once during PFL’s offseason in 2020, defeating Courtney King on an Invicta FC card.
Morais’ 26-fight career includes appearances in KSW and Invicta FC. She signed to PFL after picking up three consecutive wins in regional promotion Shooto Brasil from 2019 to 2020.
Bout 10: Fabricio Werdum (24-9-1) vs. Renan Ferreira (6-2) (Heavyweight)
Former interim UFC Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum will make his PFL debut in the main event against Renan Ferreira. Along with signings like Anthony Pettis and Rory MacDonald, Werdum was one of the big pickups that PFL made since their 2019 season.
Werdum will be competing outside of the UFC for the first time since 2012. He exited the promotion on a high note, having defeated Alexander Gustafsson via armbar in July of 2020.
Ferreira is fighting in the PFL after a two-fight run in regional U.S. promotion LFA. He is coming off somewhat of a layoff, with his last fight being a submission win against Jared Vanderaa in 2019.