PFL 9: Loughnane vs. Khaybulaev Preview

Movlid Khaybulaev looks at Brendan Loughnane, who is looking away in another direction.
Undefeated featherweight Movlid Khaybulaev and Brendan Loughnane will headline Friday’s card. (PFL)

PFL’s October grand finals are almost completely set. 12 fighters have already punched their ticket to the finals, putting them in the position to potentially earn $1 million.

On Friday night, the final four fighters in the PFL grad finals will be determined at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, USA.

The semi-final bouts for the featherweight and light heavyweight divisions will go down, with matchups including names like Brendan Loughnane, Movlid Khaybulaev, Antonio Carlos Junior, and more.

Here’s a preview of the event.

Click here to skip to a preview of the playoff fights.

Preliminary Card (6:30PM EDT) (ESPN+ / TSN Bonus)

Bout 1: Jacob Kilburn (8-4) vs. Brandon Jenkins (14-7) (Lightweight)

Making his first appearance after a two-fight UFC stint, Jacob Kilburn will get his PFL debut against Brandon Jenkins in the opening bout of Friday night.

Kilburn lost both fights in his UFC run, getting submitted by Billy Quarantillo and recently dropping a unanimous decision to Austin Lingo.

Before then, Kilburn had earned two stoppage wins in regional promotion Island Fights.

Jenkins, a six-fight LFA vet, will be making his first PFL appearance as well. He is entering the promotion after earning two wins in Caged Aggression recently.

Bout 2: Alejandro Flores (19-3) vs. Carl Deaton III (15-4) (Featherweight)

In another double PFL debut, featherweights Alejandro Flores and Carl Deaton III will compete on Friday night.

Deaton III has been absent from MMA recently, with his last fight being a decision loss against Jonas Flok in 2019. His last combat sports appearance was in early 2020, where he lost a boxing match.

Flores got the PFL call just two months after defeating Teo Londono in just over a minute with strikes. The fight was his fourth win in his last five fights, with the sole loss being an appearance on “Dana White’s Contender Series.”

Bout 3: Jason Knight (21-6) vs. Bobby Moffett (13-6) (Featherweight)

After a short run in bare-knuckle combat sports, Jason Knight will make his PFL debut on Friday against Bobby Moffett.

Knight, a former UFC fighter, has been one of the more notable names to have competed in bare-knuckle boxing promotion BKFC since it formed in 2018. He had a two-fight rivalry with Artem Lobov in 2019, winning and losing a bout each in those meetings.

Knight returned to MMA this year with two submission wins. After defeating Cliff Wright on an iKon card, he stopped noted journeyman Charles Bennett within a round at a bare-knuckle MMA card.

Moffett will be attempting to snap a losing streak. The three-fight UFC vet lost his PFL debut during the regular season earlier this year, dropping a decision to Bubba Jenkins.

Bout 4: Anthony Dizy (13-4) vs. Jesse Stirn (11-5) (Featherweight)

After both losing their sole PFL bout earlier this year, featherweights Anthony Dizy and Jesse Stirm will meet on Friday’s prelims.

Dizy fought at PFL’s first event this year, losing a unanimous decision to Chris Wade. He was returning to MMA for the first time since 2019 but was entering PFL on a two-fight winning streak that he had attained in M-1 Challenge.

Stirn joined the promotion later in the year, losing a match to Sheymon Moraes in June. The fight came just two months after he defeated Reginald Adams on a CFFC card.

Bout 5: Chris Camozzi (26-15) vs. Cory Hendricks (8-3) (Light Heavyweight)

After not making the cut for the PFL playoffs, light heavyweights Chris Camozzi and Cory Hendricks have been paired for the undercard.

Both Camozzi and Hendricks earned points in the regular season but didn’t do enough to break into one of the four playoff slots.

Hendricks fought once in the season, pulling off a comeback and submitting Marthin Hamlet late in the third round with a rear naked choke. The win earned Hendricks four points in the light heavyweight bracket.

Ironically, a six-point win from Hamlet earlier in the season secured him a spot in the playoffs while Hendricks was left among those who didn’t qualify.

Camozzi, a veteran of MMA, started his season with a loss to 2019 champion Emiliano Sordi. He bounced back in his second appearance of the season, defeating Cezar Ferreira on scorecards.

Bout 6: Sheymon Moraes (12-5) vs. Lazar Stojadinovic (14-8) (Featherweight)

The six-fight prelims will conclude with a featherweight bout between Sheymon Moraes and Lazar Stojadinovic.

Moraes entered the 2021 season after finishing up a five-fight stint in the UFC from 2017 to 2019. His season had a rough start, as Brendan Loughnane finished him in just over two minutes with punches.

The 30-year-old snapped a three-fight skid in his second bout of the season, catching Jesse Stirn with a second-round kimura. The win placed Moraes fifth in the standings, putting him just one spot short of making the playoffs.

Stojadinovic lost his sole appearance in the promotion to the undefeated Movlid Khaybulaev in April.

Main Card (10:00PM EDT) (ESPN2 / TSN 4)

Bout 7: Cezar Ferreria (14-9) vs. Marthin Hamlet (7-2) (Light Heavyweight)

In the first of four playoff bouts airing on Friday night, Cezar Ferreira and Marthin Hamlet will fight in the light heavyweight division.

Both fighters earned their spot in the bracket through quick finish victories.

Ferreira needed just 37 seconds in his first fight of the season, stopping Nick Roehrick with strikes in April. While he took a decision loss to Chris Camozzi later in the season, the six points from his first fight secured him a spot in the playoffs.

Hamlet is entering the tournament in the third seed. He walked away from the regular season with five points from a second-round arm triangle choke submission he earned against Dan Spohn. The points he earned from that fight carried him to the playoffs despite a loss later on to Cory Hendricks.

Bout 8: Emiliano Sordi (23-8-1) vs. Antonio Carlos Junior (11-5) (Light Heavyweight)

2019 PFL Champion Emiliano Sordi will have a tough challenge in his quest towards becoming a two-time champion, as he will meet UFC vet Antonio Carlos Junior in the semi-finals of the playoffs.

Sordi made it through to the playoffs with four points. He started the season by taking a tough unanimous decision victory over Chris Camozzi. After that, he fought to a draw against Dan Spohn – a result that came from a close battle that had even closer scorecards due to a point deduction on Sordi.

Sordi’s 2021 run thus far has produced dramatically different results than his 2019 season. His flawless five-fight run that year all came via finish, with only one of his fights leaving the first round.

When Carlos Junior made his PFL debut in April, he was fighting outside of the UFC for the first time since 2014 – and for only the fourth time in his pro career.

Carlos Junior secured a playoff spot early in the season, finishing fellow UFC vet Tom Lawlor within a round with a guillotine choke. His six points from that submission, along with one point he took against Vinny Magalhaes due to a no contest result, put him as the top seed in the light heavyweight division.

Bout 9: Chris Wade (19-6) vs. Bubba Jenkins (16-4) (Featherweight)

After the light heavyweight finals get determined, featherweights will take to the cage for their grand final spots. Unlike any other weight class in the PFL this season this year, all four featherweight playoff fighters went undefeated during the regular season.

A win on Friday for Wade would be a milestone for him.

Wade has participated in two previous PFL seasons but he has yet to advance to their finals. He has come close both times, being eliminated in the semi-finals in 2019 and 2018.

He qualified for the 2021 playoffs with a decision victory over Anthony Dizy and a stoppage win against Arman Ospanov.

Jenkins went the distance in both of his regular season bouts, defeating former champ Lance Palmer and Bobby Moffett on scorecards.

Jenkins was entering the PFL this year after becoming a Brave CF Champion in 2019.

Bout 10: Brendan Loughnane (21-3) vs. Movlid Khaybulaev (17-0-1) (Featherweight)

A strong featherweight matchup will headline Friday’s card, as Brendan Loughnane and Movlid Khaybulaev will square off.

Loughnane has undoubtedly been the star of PFL’s featherweight division so far this year. He started the season with a bang, stopping Sheymon Moraes within a round with punches in April. The stoppage victory put a spotlight on Loughnane as the card he was on had only decision outcomes besides his victory.

Loughnane secured his top seed in the featherweight division with a majority decision win over Tyler Diamond in June.

Khaybulaev’s appearance on Friday gives him a second chance to make it into a PFL final. The undefeated Russian appeared in the 2019 PFL season, qualifying for postseason with seven points – most of which came from a viral 10-second flying knee knockout.

But that year he was eliminated in the quarter-finals by now-UFC fighter Daniel Pineda. However, that fight has since been overturned to a no contest due to a drug test on Pineda.

Khaybulaev got into the playoffs with six points, having won both of his regular season bouts via decision. After kicking off the season with a victory over Lazar Stojadinovic, Khaybulaev defeated two-time PFL champion Lance Palmer.

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