PFL took some time off, and now they’re back with another batch of fights to sort out the lightweight and featherweight divisions. Will it be good? Most likely, yes. It just won’t be what it could have been, and that’s fine.
The most unfortunate thing here is the fact that Anthony Pettis withdrew due to medical reasons and has been rebooked for later this month. So this card does take a hit in star power but remains a very competitive set of fights, for the greater part.
While most of this event is competitive and has plenty of action potential, the main event is a potential mismatch with that will have a lot of eyeballs on it. With Pettis out of the picture this week, all of the attention will be focused on Claressa Shields, the former US boxing Olympic gold medallist that turned pro and set the field ablaze. Winning championships in two weight classes and taking on all contenders, she’s made the jump to MMA due to lack of support and financial incentive in boxing.
After spending some time training at Jackson/Winklejohn, she’s now set to make her professional debut against Brittney Elkin, a talented grappler with a height advantage. Elkin is also 3-6 as a pro walking into this bout on a three-fight losing skid. This will also be her first MMA bout since 2019.
None of this means she has no avenues for victory here. Despite Shields’ boxing experience and athleticism, cardio for boxing doesn’t work the same way as cardio for grappling. Elkin will be at a massive disadvantage standing, but has the size and frame to make Shields carry her weight and wear her down from the clinch to eventually work takedowns and control on the ground. The thing to remember about PFL events is that the “anything can happen“ maxim is very real, especially with all the upsets we’ve seen so far. Shields should understandably be a major underdog, but Elkin can drag her into deep water to work her way to a decision or submission win if she’s careful enough.
Speaking of upsets, Clay Collard (19-8) is back after out-hustling and out-striking Anthony Pettis, and he will now face the well-travelled Joilton Lutterbach (34-9). Lutterbach lost a split decision to Raush Manfio in his last outing, but he’s a menace with a ton of finishes and can still be a dark horse to advance and end up deep in the finals. Will Collard’s boxing paired with use of space and pressure be enough here? Maybe, but it’s a tough fight for both participants, both looking to score big and move up in the rankings.
Bubba Jenkins (15-4) won a shocker earlier in the year when he bested Lance Palmer in a decision win, shaking up the field and extending his overall win streak to four. His improved striking and solid wrestling foundation got him this far, and it all may serve him well against former LFA and UFC submission ace Bobby Moffett (13-5). Moffett’s UFC run was an unfortunate one, as he went 0-2 with one no-contest, but he’s a talented and durable grappler that could fit in fairly well in the PFL fold.
Brendan Loughane (20-3) won on Contender Series, but it wasn’t enough. He bet on himself by joining PFL and he’s come up aces so far with a stellar win earlier in the year against technical striker Sheymon Moraes. Now he’s up against Tyler Diamond (12-1), a former Ultimate Fighter contestant and Team Alpha Male talent with a bunch of finishes. He got his first PFL win against Sung Bin Jo back in April.
Alex Martinez (8-0) won a somewhat surprising decision against Loik Radzhabov in April as well, and he’s got a bigger challenge ahead as he tangles with former lightweight champ Natan Schulte (20-4). Much like the previously mentioned Lance Palmer, Schulte seemed somewhat unbeatable. That was until he suffered his first loss since 2017 against Marcin Held, snapping a nine-fight win streak. He’ll be looking to get back into the win column with his experience and athleticism, and Martinez is game to throw down and use his well-rounded skillset again.
Speaking of Marcin Held (27-7), he’s back in action against another UFC vet in Olivier Aubin-Mercier (11-5). Sheymon Moraes (11-5) is set to face newcomer Jesse Stirn, while Chris Wade (18-6) meets Arman Ospanov (11-3).
You can check out the weigh-ins here:
Full card is as follows:
Claressa Shields (154.8) vs. Brittney Elkin (155.4) – Lightweight
Clay Collard (155.8) vs. Joilton Lutterbach (159.4)** – Lightweight
Bubba Jenkins (145.6) vs. Bobby Moffett (146) – Featherweight
Brendan Loughnane (146) vs. Tyler Diamond (145.6) – Featherweight
Natan Schulte (156) vs. Alex Martinez (156) – Lightweight
Marcin Held (155.6) vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier (155.4) – Lightweight
Akhmed Aliev (155.6) vs. Loik Radzhabov (156) – Lightweight
Sheymon Moraes (146) vs. Jesse Stirn (146.8) – Featherweight
Chris Wade (146) vs Arman Ospanov (144.8) – Featherweight
**Lutterbach will forfeit 30% of his purse to Collard for missing weight.
PFL #: Shields vs Elkin begins this Thursday night with the prelims at 7:00pm EST on ESPN+, with the main card being simulcast on ESPN+ as well as ESPN2.
About the author