The 2022 championship bouts for PFL’s heavyweight and welterweight divisions were confirmed on Saturday afternoon at the Cardiff Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, Wales.
Dilano Taylor and Sadiboy Sy both pulled off big wins on the main card to make it to their first-ever welterweight finals. And over at heavyweight, Ante Delija and Matheus Scheffel secured their chance at earning $1 million.
Taylor Earns Upset Finish Over MacDonald
Dilano Taylor pulled off a massive upset on Saturday night, stopping UFC and Bellator veteran Rory MacDonald in the first round with punches to qualify for the 2022 PFL Welterweight Championship.
Taylor caused a finish to the fight in the fourth minute, flooring MacDonald with a right cross punch. MacDonald immediately shelled up on the ground, allowing Taylor to land ground and pound shots until the fight was stopped.
Taylor, a PFL rookie, will now appear in the promotion’s 2022 finals later this year.
Taylor has had a busy 2022 that includes many ups and downs. He entered the playoffs as an alternate, replacing Magomed Umalatov, who had to withdraw from the card due to visa issues. He previously also fought twice in the regular season and appeared on PFL’s “Challenger Series” in February.
Taylor’s regular season run saw him score a decision over Joao Zeferino and lose a fight to Magomed Magomedkerimov.
MacDonald was fighting to qualify for a PFL championship bout for the second time in his career. He was eliminated in the 2021 semi-finals as well, getting his run stopped by Ray Cooper III that year.
Delija Qualifies For Second Consecutive PFL Playoffs
Ante Delija secured a second chance to become PFL champion on Saturday night, securing a first-round finish victory against Renan Ferreira to advance to the heavyweight finals.
Delija scored a takedown early in his fight, allowing him to unload with punches on the ground.
Delija finished the fight from a full mount position, landing hammerfist punches on a covered-up Ferreira until the fight was stopped.
Delija now has a second chance to become a PFL champion. He made it to the finals in 2021 as well but lost a five-round unanimous decision against Bruno Cappelozza in the end.
Ferreira made it into the 2021 playoffs due to a 25-second victory that he scored against Jamelle Jones in April.
Scheffel Stops Fellow Bracket Alternate Adams
Matheus Scheffel secured a heavyweight championship spot with a finish win, stopping short-notice opponent Juan Adams late with strikes.
A constant pace of punches from Scheffel caused damage to Adams late in the fight, causing the referee to eventually step in and wave off the contest. Adams was still on his feet during the finishing sequence, although he had consumed a large volume of shots up until that point without actively defending or answering back.
Adams was more active with striking earlier in the fight, but it was Scheffel who controlled the bout throughout all three rounds.
Adams, a former UFC fighter, was stepping in to replace Ante Delija. Like Magomed Umalatov, visa issues took Delija out of the tournament recently.
Scheffel was also an alternate in the bracket, entering the playoffs after 2021 champion Bruno Cappelozza was pulled from the card.
Sy Secures PFL Championship Spot For The First Time
Sadibou Sy secured his first-ever PFL grand final spot on Saturday night, working to a unanimous decision against Carlos Leal.
Sy engaged in a close striking battle against Leal through all three rounds. Sy started the fight strong, working a much more aggressive pace than what Leal started with.
Leal picked up his output in the second round, allowing him to out-land Sy and earn a round on scorecards.
The fight came down to the third round, where Sy was able to pull ahead and secure his win.
Even if Sy didn’t win the final round, a point deduction that was handed to Leal in the third round for an unintentional groin strike could have forced the bout to end in a draw.
Sy will now compete in his first-ever PFL grand final, something he has attempted to qualify for four different times in his career.
Sy made the playoffs earlier this year with two wins in the regular season, defeating Nikolay Aleksakhin and Rory MacDonald via decision.
Leal, a former LFA champion, also joined the playoffs after giving him six points in the season.
Kelly Submits Ellis To End Strong Performance
Nate Kelly had an impressive showing in the opening bout of the main card, submitting Ben Ellis in the first round with a rear naked choke.
Kelly submitted Ellis late in the third minute of their fight, putting in the submission after a dominant performance on the feet.
Before the fight went to the ground, Kelly lit Ellis up with a series of clean punches to the head.
Kelly has now won six consecutive fights as a pro. Previous appearances include a Bellator victory over Scott Pedersen in February.
The fight qualified Kelly for the 2023 PFL European Series, which will be an offshoot season run by the promotion next year.
The Rest of the Card
Veteran light heavyweight Lee Chadwick picked up a win to close out the postlims, going the distance against Przemyslaw Mysiala for a decision victory.
Will Fleury extended his winning streak in his PFL debut, handing Anthony Salamone his first pro loss in a unanimous decision result.
Maxim Radu had a quick victory on Saturday night, as an injury to the leg of Vojto Barborik caused their fight to end the fight in the second minute.
Moktar Benkaci’s damaging performance on the feet against Francesco Nuzzi came to an end in the second round, as an accidental eye poke took Nuzzi out of the fight. Because of that exchange, the fight was ruled a no contest.
Josh O’Connor earned his second pro win on Saturday’s prelims, closing out a dominant performance with a late rear naked choke submission against Emran Sakhizaada.
Marcin Wojcik dominated on the ground against Mick Stanton, landing ground and pound before slipping in a rear naked choke for a win.
Chris Mixan kept his undefeated record alive in a razor-sharp split decision victory, prevailing in a stand-up battle against Christian Stigenberg.
Szymon Bajor opened the evening with a decision win, using ground control to defeat short-notice opponent Ronny Markes on scorecards.
PFL Europe Qualifiers (4:30PM EDT / 9:30PM BST) (ESPN+)
Bout 13: Lee Chadwick def. Przemyslaw Mysiala via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 12: Will Fleury def. Anthony Salamone via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 11: Maxim Radu def. Vojto Barborik via TKO, Injury (RD 1, 1:15)
Bout 10: Moktar Benkaci vs. Francesco Nuzzi via No Contest, Accidental Eye Poke (RD 2, 4:10)
Main Card (2:00PM EDT / 7:00PM BST) (ESPN)
Bout 9: Dilano Taylor def. Rory MacDonald via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 3:59) (PFL Welterweight Playoff Semi-Finals)
Bout 8: Ante Delija def. Renan Ferreira via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 4:31) (PFL Heavyweight Playoff Semi-Finals)
Bout 7: Matheus Scheffel def. Juan Adams via TKO, Strikes (RD 3, 3:45) (PFL Heavyweight Playoff Semi-Finals)
Bout 6: Sadibou Sy def. Carlos Leal via Decision, Unanimous (PFL Welterweight Playoff Semi-Finals)
Bout 5: Ben Ellis def. Nate Kelly via Submission, Rear Naked Choke (RD 1, 2:45)
Preliminary Card (12:00PM EDT / 5:00PM BST) (ESPN+)
Bout 4: Josh O’Connor def. Emran Sakhizaada via Submission, Rear Naked Choke (RD 3, 2:56)
Bout 3: Marcin Wojcik def. Mick Stanton via Submission, Rear Naked Choke (RD 1, 4:04)
Bout 2: Chris Mixan def. Christian Stigenberg via Decision, Split
Bout 1: Szymon Bajor def. Ronny Markes via Decision, Unanimous