Leaving UFC for a million dollar dream? Shane Burgos learns it’s not easy, needs big rebound at PFL 6

PFL finalizes the season for the welterweight and lightweight ranks, as we look forward to how the divisions thin out.

By: Victor Rodriguez | 3 months ago
Leaving UFC for a million dollar dream? Shane Burgos learns it’s not easy, needs big rebound at PFL 6

PFL keeps rolling with what are arguably their most competitive divisions getting some love this week. Lightweights and welterweights are set to sort out the standings and push through to the playoffs and the eventual run to the million dollar jackpot.

Some former champions are here to get another bite at the apple, which isn’t surprising. And some of the slotted matchups are going to be very difficult to pick. In fact, some might by stylistically tough to watch. Obviously, we all hope for the opposite, and PFL always offers the possibility of fighters going against type and events being surprisingly exciting.

Can Olivier Aubin-Mercier make it two in a row?

After three decision wins in a row last year, Olivier Aubin-Mercier (18-5) capped off 2022 by crushing Stevie Ray in the finals. So far, he spoiled the welcome party for Shane Burgos back in April with a decision win. That earned him three points in the PFL standings, but he’s going to need more than that to move up to the playoffs.

And that means he’s got to do something impressive against fellow Canadian Anthony Romero (12-1). Romero loves himself a dogfight, and Olivier would be wise to avoid that and keep more output from range. Romero has no quit in him, and will most likely be walking him down and pushing the pace.

Shane Burgos trying to make up his defecit

Shane Burgos (15-4) left the UFC for greener pastures, and didn’t have the debut that he expected. But that’s not to say he can’t do something big to pull ahead by making up for lost ground here. That requires facing PXC and Shooto vet Yamato Nishikawa (21-4, 6 draws), who was last in action in April in a decision loss against Clay Collard.

Nishikawa has some solid finishes on his record, but he hasn’t fought anyone of this caliber. Meanwhile, Burgos remains a reliable action fighter that loves taking risks, and a finish for him could put him in a good spot for the playoff run as he’s currently 0-1 with zero points. Same goes for Nishikawa, so a decision win may not be enough to keep the dream alive for either fighter.

Magomed wants more gold

Magomed Magomedkerimov (31-6) was PFL champion in 2018 when he crushed Ray Cooper III’s Cinderella run, and has remained a constant dilemma to almost everyone else since. His only loss since 2015 was against the aforementioned Cooper in their 2021 rematch. With a headkick win over Ben Egli in his first 2023 fight, he’s comfortably atop the standings with six points.

But the task ahead is a duel with German David Zawada (18-8). He suffered what could be considered an upset loss against heavy-hitting Carlos Leal earlier this year. He’s still crafty and resourceful, but he’s also working with a deficit having zero points, coming off a TKO and now facing the man that should rightfully be considered the strong favorite to win the whole thing.

It’s a rough game, kids.

April 14, 2023, Las Vegas, NV, LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States: LAS VEGAS, NEVADA -April 14: (L-R) Magomed Magomedkerimov and Ben Egli fight in a Welterweight bout during PFL 3 - Lightweights & Welterweights at the Virgin Hotel & Casino on April 14, 2023 in Las Vegas, NV Las Vegas, NV United States - ZUMAp175 20230414_zsa_p175_365 Copyright: xLouisxGrassex
Magomed Magomedkerimov vs Ben Egli

The other welterweight favorite, maybe?

Magomed Umalatov remains at a perfect 13-0, and made a statement opening the tournament putting last year’s runner-up Dilano Taylor on ice. He meets fellow undefeated prospect Nayib Lopez (16-0), who defeated Shane Mitchell earlier in the year. A second big win for Umalatov here could make him an even bigger threat to win the tournament. Another interesting welterweight tilt is on the menu as Dilano Taylor (10-4) tries to bounce back as hard as possible, but he’s got a steep hill to climb against Carlos Leal, who’s also up on the leaderboard right now.

Lightweight logjam

Former PFL champ Natan Schulte (24-5, 1 draw) is still a threat to anyone in the division, and now he’s finally facing 2021 tournament winner Raush Manfio (17-4). They were scheduled to face off in last year’s tournament, but that fight got cancelled. Two of the most complete lightweights and former champs are going to have a very technical and skilled battle, and that’s a big plus for this card.

Finally, Stevie Ray (25-12) had one of the most devastating upsets last year against former UFC champ Anthony Pettis by submission, then beat him again by decision. Despite falling short in the final, he’s rallying to make it happen this year, and he’s gotta get through Clay Collard (22-10). Collard still has stellar boxing with nasty body shots and a ferocious pace. This should also be excellent.

Viewing information for this week’s PFL card is available here.

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About the author
Victor Rodriguez
Victor Rodriguez

Victor Rodriguez has been a writer and podcaster for Bloody Elbow since 2015. He started his way as a lowly commenter and moderator to become the miscreant he is now. He often does weekly bits on fringe martial arts items across the globe, oddball street combat pieces, previews, analysis, and some behind-the-scenes support. He has trained in wrestling, Karate, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and the occasional Muay Thai and Judo lesson here and there. Victor has also been involved with acting and audio editing projects. He lives in Pennsylvania where he plays way too many video games and is an S-rank dad.

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