PFL 2022 #10: World Championship Preview

Kayla Harrison and Larissa Pacheco face off at PFL's ceremonial weigh-ins.
Kayla Harrison and Larissa Pacheco will meet for the third time this Friday (Cooper Neill / PFL)

PFL’s busy end-of-year event will take place on Friday night at the Hulu Theater in New York City, New York, USA. The card has 12 bouts in total, with six of them being championship fights. Each winner will walk away with a prize of $1 million for the belt.

Lightweight Kayla Harrison will look to become a champion for the third time in the main event, facing rival Larissa Pacheco for the third time.

The card includes many differing storylines. Some fighters have a million-dollar chance in their first year as a PFL fighter. Some have worked for years to get to this position. Either way, they all need one more big performance to get the title this Friday. Here’s a full preview of the evening.

Click here to skip to a preview of the main card.

Preliminary Card (5:30PM EST) (ESPN+ / TSN Direct)

Bout 1: Biaggio Ali Walsh (1-1) vs. Tom Graesser (0-0) (Amateur Lightweight)

The PFL card on Friday will start with a rare amateur bout from the promotion. Biaggio Ali Walsh, the grandson of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, will compete against Tom Graesser.

Walsh picked up his first amateur victory in August, stopping Bradley Seaver in the first round of a bout with strikes. Two months before then, he lost his debut via submission.

Graesser will be competing in MMA for the first time.

Bout 2: Dakota Ditcheva (6-0) vs. Katherine Corogenes (2-0) (Flyweight)

Over to the pro-fight section of the card, undefeated flyweight prospects Dakota Ditcheva and Katherine Corogenes will meet.

Ditcheva has a pro record of six wins since her April 2021 debut. She had a big win in her PFL debut in August, stopping Hassna Gaber in just 58 seconds with strikes.

Corogenes will be making her first PFL appearance. She has fought twice since 2019, with both wins coming via stoppage. Her last appearance, a submission victory in June, came in just 86 seconds.

Bout 3: Magomed Magomedkerimov (30-6) vs. Gleison Tibau (36-16) (Welterweight)

Welterweight veterans Magomed Magomedkerimov and Gleison Tibau will meet on the prelims.

Magomedkerimov only got to compete once during the regular season this year, scoring a stoppage victory over Dilano Taylor. His previous fight that year, a booking against Joao Zeferino, didn’t take place due to visa issues.

Tibau’s only fight this year was a split decision defeat against Jarrah Al-Silawi in May.

Bout 4: Natan Schulte (22-5-1) vs. Jeremy Stephens (29-20) (Lightweight)

After not qualifying for the playoffs this year, two-time lightweight champion Natan Schulte will face Jeremy Stephens.

2022 was the second consecutive year where Schulte failed to make the playoffs. This year he scored a win and a loss on the regular season. With just three points by the end of the season, he wasn’t able to get into the four-man postseason bracket.

Stephens, a former UFC fighter, similarly did not make the playoffs after winning and losing a fight respectively during the regular season. His win this year was his first victory since 2018 and snapped a six-fight losing streak.

Bout 5: Sheymon Moraes (14-6) vs. Marlon Moraes (23-10-1) (Bantamweight)

Marlon Moraes will end his retirement and make his PFL debut on Friday against Sheymon Moraes.

Moraes announced his retirement from MMA earlier this year after suffering his fourth consecutive finish loss in the UFC. He altered this plan a few months ago after inking a contract with the PFL. He was originally scheduled to appear on this card against fellow UFC alum Shane Burgos.

Moraes competed in the PFL from 2012 to 2016 when it was known as the WSOF. He departed the promotion as their bantamweight champion to join the UFC roster at the end of that run.

Sheymon Moraes was a semi-finalist in the 2021 PFL season. This year wasn’t as successful for him, as he defeated Boston Salmon but didn’t qualify for the playoffs after losing a bout to Lance Palmer.

Main Card (8:00PM EST) (PPV)

Bout 6: Omari Akhmedov (24-7-1) vs. Rob Wilkinson (16-2) (PFL Lightweight Championship)

The PPV portion of the card will kick off with the first of six title fights, as Omari Akhmedov and Rob Wilkinson will compete. It is the first of five matchups on Friday where a division will crown a an all-new champion no matter who wins.

Akhmedov joined the PFL roster last year after a 15-fight UFC run. He has had a flawless run this year so far in the 2022 season. He first secured a playoff spot after finishing Viktor Pesta and Teodoras Aukstuolis in regular season bouts. He then handed Josh Silveira his first pro loss in a semi-final bout, beating him on scorecards.

Wilkinson joined the PFL this year with a record of 13 wins and two losses. He quickly made a name for himself with a series of finish wins. In the regular season, he stopped Bruce Suoto and Viktor Pesta. Then in the playoffs, he put away Delan Monte in the second minute of their bout via knee.

Bout 7: Dilano Taylor (10-2) vs. Sadibou Sy (12-6-2) (PFL Welterweight Championship)

In his fourth year as a PFL fighter, Sadibou Sy will finally get a championship opportunity when he faces Dilano Taylor on Friday night.

Sy has fought in the 2018, 2019, and 2021 seasons of the PFL. He has made it to the postseason in every year but was eliminated before making it to the grand finals. He made it the distance this time after scoring three decision wins, beating Nikolay Aleksakhin and Rory MacDonald in the regular season, and overcoming Carlos Leal in August.

Taylor is one of the many PFL rookies appearing on this card. He joined the PFL roster in February with a victory on the promotion’s “Challenger Series.” He snuck into the playoffs with a split decision victory against Joao Zeferino.

Taylor moved into the finals with a big win in the semi-finals, stopping former Bellator Champion Rory MacDonald in the first round with strikes. He has the chance to top the biggest win of his career with a successful appearance on Friday.

Bout 8: Stevie Ray (25-10) vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier (16-5) (PFL Lightweight Championship)

Two former UFC talents will have a chance to win a $1 million grand prize when Stevie Ray and Olivier Aubin-Mercier meet at lightweight.

Before this year’s PFL season, Ray was retired from MMA for a little more than a year. He ended this retirement this year to make a run in the PFL. While he lost his first fight of the year to Alexander Martinez, he secured a playoff spot with a second-round twister submission against Anthony Pettis.

Since Pettis also made it into the playoffs, Ray rematched him in the semi-finals. He went the distance against Pettis in this instance, prevailing again to earn his appearance this weekend.

Aubin-Mercier is in his second PFL season. He scored two wins in 2021 but was not able to make a playoff run. He has gone flawless so far this year, beating Natan Schulte, Raush Manfio and Alexander Martinez.

Bout 9: Julia Budd (16-4) vs. Aspen Ladd (9-3) (Featherweight)

The main card will take a break from title bouts for the PFL debut of Aspen Ladd. The UFC alum will make her promotional debut against Julia Budd on Friday night.

Ladd left the UFC roster a couple of months ago after failing to make weight for a bantamweight fight against Sara McMann. This news continued her weight issues in recent years, struggling to reach the 136-pound limit in the past.

Ladd is up at featherweight this weekend, where she hopes to remain for the rest of her career. This bout is a chance to snap a two-fight losing streak that she took near the end of her UFC career.

Budd, a former Bellator Featherweight Champion, has earned a win and a loss in the PFL. Her sole victory came last year in a non-tournament fight against Kaitlin Young.

Budd lost her sole regular season bout this year to Genah Fabian. She would have met Kayla Harrison later in the year if not for injury sidelining her.

Bout 10: Ante Delija (22-5) vs. Matheus Scheffel (17-8) (PFL Heavyweight Championship)

Ante Delija will get a second chance at becoming heavyweight champion when he faces Matheus Scheffel this weekend.

Delija was a finalist during his debut year for the PFL in 2021. The finals had him paired up against Bruno Cappelozza in a rematch. The back-and-forth contest saw Cappelozza walk away with a decision win after five rounds.

Delija has put together a flawless 2022 since then, scoring three wins with two of them coming via finish. His last victory was in August when he put away Renan Ferreira within a round to secure a grand final spot.

Scheffel, a former “Dana White’s Contender Series” fighter, joined the PFL roster this year. He lost his first fight of the year, but turned things around and beat Bruno Cappelozza and short-notice opponent Juan Adams to get a grand final spot.

Bout 11: Brendan Loughnane (25-4) vs. Bubba Jenkins (19-5) (PFL Featherweight Championship)

Featherweights Brendan Loughnane and Bubba Jenkins will serve as the co-main event for Friday’s show.

Loughnane and Jenkins have had somewhat quiet years, although they have strong followings and have gained attention for being charismatic talkers. If there’s one thing about their performances in this year that is for sure, it’s that they have proven to be consistent.

Loughnane has earned three consecutive wins this year, including a playoff victory over Chris Wade. This year is his third PFL run. Last year he was eliminated in the semi-finals by Movlid Khaybulaev.

Jenkins started his year with decision wins over Kyle Bochniak and Reinaldo Ekson. He then picked up a fast victory in August, submitting Ryoji Kudo in just under two minutes with a rear naked choke.

Bout 12: Kayla Harrison (15-0) vs. Larissa Pacheco (18-4) (PFL Lightweight Championship)

Kayla Harrison will attempt to become a three-time PFL Lightweight Champion in Friday’s main event, meeting Larissa Pacheco for the third time.

Harrison has yet to lose as a pro through 15 fights. She earned her first PFL belt in 2019 with a victory over Pacheco via unanimous decision after five rounds. She then claimed another belt with a dominant 2021 run, earning four consecutive stoppages that year.

Harrison’s previous PFL contract expired earlier this year. However, due to the promotion having the right to match any offers from other promotions, she remained on the roster.

Harrison is seeing her third PFL grand final appearance after another strong year. In the regular season, she beat Marina Mokhnatkina via decision and stopped Kaitlin Young in the first round with strikes. She had another quick win in a semi-final bout three months back, submitting Martina Jindrova with an arm triangle choke.

Pacheco has clearly been the strongest lightweight other than Harrison since their last meeting. Like Harrison, Pacheco has yet to lose since that 2019 encounter. She scored two first-round finishes in the regular season in 2021, although she had to withdraw from the playoffs due to injury.

Pacheco made it to the final this year with a trio of first-round finish wins. Her longest appearance this year is only two minutes and 39 seconds.

For the first time since 2019, the two top lightweight women in the PFL will meet. The question on Friday will be if they can produce a different result this time.

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