PFL 10: World Championship Preview

PFL will conclude their 2021 season on Wednesday night by crowning six new champions. The PFL Grand Finals will see a PFL belt and a grand prize of $1 million handed to fighters at lightweight (in two divisions), welterweight, heavyweight, featherweight and light heavyweight.

The stacked lineup will also see boxing prizefighter Claressa Shields look for her second pro MMA win when facing Abigail Montes.

The event is set to take place at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, USA. Here’s a preview of all of the action.

Click here to skip to a preview of the main card (NOTE: Some of the PFL Championship fights are featured on the prelims as well).

Preliminary Card (4:30PM EDT) (ESPN+ / TSN Bonus)

Bout 1: Don Madge (9-3-1) vs. Nathan Williams (13-7) (Lightweight)

Former UFC fighter Don Madge will make his PFL debut when facing Nathan Williams in the opening bout of the prelims.

Madge is on an interesting career trajectory that you rarely see in MMA. He is departing the UFC after a short run with them – that’s not the unique part. What is, is that he won both of his fights in the promotion, fighting twice from 2018 to 2019. After a series of fights recently fell through in the promotion, he is making the move Wednesday to the PFL.

Williams will also be making his PFL debut. He has fought as a pro since 2015, fighting frequently in regional promotion NFC. He took a win his last time out, defeating Don Shainis via decision in July.

Bout 2: Julia Budd (15-3) vs. Kaitlin Young (12-11-1) (Lightweight)

Former Bellator Featherweight Champion Julia Budd will make her PFL debut on Wednesday, moving up to lightweight for a fight against fellow veteran Kaitlin Young.

Budd was Bellator’s 145-pound champ for a long time, defending the belt three times from 2017 to 2019. She dropped the belt last year to former UFC champ Cris Cyborg, getting stopped in the fourth round of a fight.

Budd is now departing Bellator after picking up two wins over the past year-or-so. She is also moving up a weight class, fighting at PFL’s lightweight class.

Young fought in the 2021 PFL season but didn’t qualify for the playoffs. She scored three points in the season with a decision win over Cindy Dandois, but lost her second fight to Mariana Morais.

Bout 3: Omari Akhmdeov (21-6-1) vs. Jordan Young (11-2) (Middleweight)

Fighting for the first time since a 15-fight run in the UFC, Omari Akhmedov will meet Jordan Young at middleweight on Wednesday.

Akhmedov first joined the UFC roster in 2013. He left the promotion in July following a split decision loss to fellow veteran Brad Tavares.

Akhmedov had scored a submission win earlier this year, catching Tom Breese with an arm triangle choke in January.

Young fought once up at light heavyweight as part of PFL’s 2021 season. His sole fight was a unanimous decision loss to now-retired Tom Lawlor.

Bout 4: Loik Radzhabov (15-3-1) vs. Raush Manfio (14-3) (PFL Lightweight Championship)

In the first of six title fights on the card, Loik Radzhabov and Raush Manfio will fight to become the new PFL Lightweight Champion.

The fight offers Radzhabov a chance at redemption. He made it to the finals of the 2019 PFL season but ended up losing to Natan Schulte after a five-round fight.

Radzhabov started his season with an upset loss to Alexander Martinez. However, he bounced back with a 27-second win over Akhmed Aliev and avenged his loss against Martinez in the semi-finals of the playoffs.

Manfio’s 2021 run has been flawless thus far. After defeating Joilton Lutterbach and Anthony Pettis via decision in the regular season, Manfio pulled off another scorecard win in the semi-finals, defeating Clay Collard.

Bout 5: Antonio Carlos Junior (12-5) vs. Mathin Hamlet (8-2) (PFL Light Heavyweight Championship)

Antonio Carlos Junior started 2021 on the UFC roster. On Wednesday, he could finish the year as a PFL Champion when facing Mathin Hamlet.

Carlos Junior left the UFC roster in early 2021 after taking his third consecutive loss for the promotion, dropping a decision to Brad Tavares in January.

He has succeeded since joining the 2021 PFL season. He secured a playoff spot with his first regular-season fight, submitting Tom Lawlor in the first round with a guillotine choke. His semi-final fight saw him defeat 2019 champ, Emiliano Sordi, via unanimous decision.

Hamlet has been an underdog in the light heavyweight division, having entered the year with one of the smaller pro records. He earned a spot in the playoffs with a second-round submission win against Dan Spohn in April. He lost his other playoff fight, getting choked out by Cory Hendricks.

Hamlet had an odd semi-final fight, as an injury to opponent Cezar Ferreira just 13 seconds into their fight gave him the win.

Main Card (8:00PM EDT) (ESPN2 / TSN 5)

Bout 6: Movlid Khaybulaev (18-0-1) vs. Chris Wade (20-6) (PFL Featherweight Championship)

The main card will open with a featherweight championship bout between undefeated contender Movlid Khaybulaev and Chris Wade.

Khaybulaev has protected his flawless pro record throughout the season. After defeating Lazar Stojadinovic and two-time PFL champ Lance Palmer in the regular season, Khaybulaev squeezed by the finals with a split decision victory against Brendan Loughnane.

While Wade doesn’t have an undefeated record, he did go flawless through his first three fights this season. With a decision win over Anthony Dizy and a stoppage victory against Arman Ospanov, Wade qualified for the playoffs. His semi-final victory saw him defeat Bubba Jenkins on scorecards.

Bout 7: Bruno Cappelozza (13-5) vs. Ante Delija (19-4) (PFL Heavyweight Championship)

Explosive heavyweights Bruno Cappelozza and Ante Delija will meet in the grand finals for their weight class.

The heavyweights met earlier this season, as Cappelozza scored a 46-second win over Delija in May. Cappelozza has continued to be a finisher since then, stopping Mo DeReese and Jamelle Jones with strikes as well.

Delija has bounced back since his first loss, stopping short-notice opponent Chandler Cole and defeating Denis Goltsov via decision in the semi-finals.

Bout 8: Claressa Shields (1-0) vs. Abigail Montes (2-0) (Lightweight)

Boxing prizefighter Claressa Shields will look for her second MMA win when facing Abigail Montes.

Shields, an Olympic gold medalist and boxer with an undefeated record of 11 wins, made her MMA debut in June. While she struggled in her debut against grappler Brittney Elkin, she was able to capitalize late on a dominant ground position to score a ground and pound win.

Shields’ last opponent, Elkin, had a negative pro record of three wins and six losses. Her new opponent, Montes, is undefeated through two pro bouts. Her last fight was in April, scoring a stoppage win.

Bout 9: Magomed Magomedkerimov (29-5) vs. Ray Cooper III (23-7-1) (PFL Welterweight Championship)

In a rematch from the 2018 PFL Grand Finals, Magomed Magomedkerimov and Ray Cooper III will fight on Wednesday.

Magomedkerimov defeated Cooper III in the 2018 finals, scoring a second-round submission win to take the belt. The Russian welterweight has remained undefeated since then, with an injury being what stopped him from competing in the 2019 PFL finals.

Magomedkerimov only fought once in the regular season, but his first-round submission win against Curtis Millender secured him a spot in the playoffs. He dominated in his semi-final fight, defeating Sadibou Sy on scorecards.

Cooper III, PFL’s 2019 Champion, will be looking to go back-to-back. Cooper III’s regular-season run kicked off with a bang in April when he submitted Jason Ponet within a round. While recognized as a finisher, Cooper III has gone the distance twice this year, defeating Nikolay Aleksakhin and Rory MacDonald.

Bout 10: Kayla Harrison (11-0) vs. Taylor Guardado (3-1) (PFL Lightweight Championship)

Aiming to earn her second PFL Championship, undefeated Kayla Harrison will challenge Taylor Guardado in the main event of Wednesday’s show.

Harrison’s entire MMA career, apart from one fight, has taken place in the PFL thus far. She had a flawless campaign in the promotion’s 2019 season, scoring four wins to take the title at lightweight.

Harrison’s run this year has been even more dominant than before, finishing all three opponents within a round. After stopping Mariana Morais and Cindy Dandois in regular-season fights, she finished Genah Fabian in her semi-final fight.

While Guardado hasn’t been able to get a stoppage win, she has gone undefeated through three PFL fights. Her semi-final bout saw her defeat Mariana Morais via split decision, which was a big step-up in competition after defeating Helena Kolesnyk and Laura Sanchez in the regular season.

Guardado was picked up by PFL after she made her pro debut for Invicta FC last year. She fought in one of the promotion’s one-night tournaments, advancing past the first two rounds before losing in the finals to Taneisha Tennant (the finals were the only fight that counted towards a pro record).

Now after just three wins, Guardado has the chance to pull off a massive upset and win $1 million.

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