The big gold pot at the end of the rainbow is within sight, and after a break, the PFL finalists have a chance at a full camp to get that cool million dollar prize.
To make things even more eventful, PFL’s two most visible stars will be front and center. Kayla Harrison (11-0) blazed through the field as expected and beat Mariana Morais, Cindy Dandois and Genah Fabian to make it here and face former Invicta talent Taylor Guardado.
Guardado (3-1) has a chance to score a massive upset and win a million in one fell swoop, having gone undefeated through the year to face the formidable Harrison. Guardado’s boxing and clinchwork got her here, and she’s got a massively steep challenge ahead to stay off her back and fend off the submission threat from the dominant Judo Olympian. Guardado can crack, though. It will be interesting to see how she can operate at range and if she’ll be able to solve the puzzle of facing Kayla.
Claressa Shields (1-0) is also back in action after facing some rough waves in her MMA debut against Brittney Elkin, and now faces Mexico’s Abby Montes (2-0). Montes has fought at bantamweight and featherweight in the past, and should be giving up a bit of size and a lot of experience against Shields. This is clearly a showcase bout to see where Shields stands in her development in MMA, and will have plenty of eyes on it.
Ray Cooper III (23-7, 1 draw) remains one of the best talents to gain notoriety under the PFL banner, starting the year with a submission and earning two decision wins to get to the final. He meets Magomed Magomedkerimov (29-5), who got a bit lucky this year. A submission win over Curtis Millender was followed by a decision win over Sadibou Sy, but two cancelled bouts against Joao Zeferino (one withdrawal each) still left him with enough points to make it here. Cooper’s boxing and wrestling defense will be very necessary against a wrestling threat like Magomedkerimov, who also loves body and leg kicks and uses them effectively.
Bruno Cappelozza (13-5) has had the year of his life with three straight finishes (all of them impressive) in this tournament run. And his opponent Ante Delija (19-4) was one of the victims he blew out of the water this year, which means he’s hoping to get even in the rematch on the big stage.
And Delija has a good chance at getting even and rich in the same night, as he’s got the standup skills to hang with Bruno and the ground strikes to make him miserable. This should be a great one to keep your eye on.
Chris Wade (20-6) almost made it to the mountaintop before, but now he’s looking primed to take it all. A wrestleboxer with improved cardio and fight IQ, he’s displayed patience and careful strike selection in baiting opponents and making sure the fight goes where he wants it. That can lead to fireworks. He faces Movlid Khaybulaev(18-0, 1 draw), who was immortalized with his flying knee win over Damon Jackson in 2019 but has shown hes much more than that. his complete skillset led him to an upset win over former champ Lance Palmer and slammed the brakes on the rise of Brendan Loughnane.
Antonio Carlos Jr (a.k.a. Shoeface, 12-5, 2 no contests) punched his ticket by submitting Tom Lawlor and winning a hard-fought and wildly fun decision over former champ Emiliano Sordi. Now he has to contend with Marthin Hamlet (8-2), who started strong with a sub win over Dan Spohn, suffered a loss to Cory Hendricks, and went on to win against Cezar “Mutante“ Ferreira due to Cezar suffering a hamstring injury. It could get very interesting if it turns into a grappling battle, but Shoeface will most likely want to keep it standing. Hamlet’s got a pretty well-developed game for someone that came into this tournament with less than ten pro fights, and he should give him some trouble.
Raush Manfio (14-3) scored two upset wins as well, defeating Anthony Pettis and Clay Collard earlier in the year. Now he’s within reach of the million as he meets Loik Radzhabov (15-3, 1 draw), who also boasts a very robust skillset and can put people down with his handfighting and feint game to disguise his strikes.
Julia Budd (15-3) is back in action as the newest free agent acquisition for PFL, and she meets Kaitlin Young (12-11, 1 draw). Finally, South Africa’s Don Madge (9-3, 1 draw) faces Nathan Williams (13-7).
You can check out the weigh-ins here:
Full card is as follows:
Kayla Harrison (153.8) vs. Taylor Guardado (154.4) – Women’s lightweight final
Ray Cooper III (169.8) vs. Magomed Magomedkerimov (170) – Welterweight final
Claressa Shields (155.8) vs. Abigail Montes (154.4) – Lightweight bout
Bruno Cappelozza (236.4) vs. Ante Delija (243) – Heavyweight final
Movlid Khaybulaev (145) vs. Chris Wade (145) – Featherweight final
Antonio Carlos Jr. (204.4) vs. Marthin Hamlet (205) – Light heavyweight final
Loik Radzhabov (155) vs. Raush Manfio (155) – Lightweight final
Omari Akhmedov (203.6) vs. Jordan Young (206) – Light heavyweight
Julia Budd (154.6) vs. Kaitlyn Young (155.6) – Lightweight
Don Madge (155.6) vs. Nathan Williams (155.4) – Lightweight
PFL 2021’s Championship Finals take place this Wednesday afternoon starting at 4:30pm ET, streaming on ESPN+ with an ESPN2 simulcast.
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