The PFL held their third playoff card on Friday night, from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. This marked the final playoff matchups before the season finale in October, with the featherweight and light heavyweight divisions on display. In the cards main event, the top seeded featherweight, Brendan Loughnane, faced the fourth seeded Movlid Khaybulaev, and in the co-main event slot, Chris Wade fought Bubba Jenkins in a battle between the second and third seeded featherweights. In the light heavyweight division, the number one seeded Antonio Carlos Junior was matched up against the fourth ranked Emiliano Sordi, and the divisions second seed, Cezar Ferreira, faced the third seeded Marthin Hamlet. Sean O’Connell provided commentary for this card, alongside Chael Sonnen and Randy Couture.
*Brandon Jenkins def. Jacob Kilburn by KO at 2:56 of Round 1
*Alejandro Flores def. Carl Deaton by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
*Bobby Moffett def. Jason Knight by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Anthony Dizy def. Jesse Stirn by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Chris Camozzi def. Cory Hendricks by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Sheymon Moraes def. Lazar Stojadinovic by TKO at 4:45 of Round 2
*Marthin Hamlet def. Cezar Ferreira by TKO at 0:13 of Round 1
*Antonio Carlos Jr. def. Emiliano Sordi by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
*Chris Wade def. Bubba Jenkins by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Movlid Khaybulaev def. Brendan Loughnane by split decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29)
BRANDON JENKINS (13-6, 156) VS JACOB KILBURN (8-4, 154.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Kilburn began the fight with a counter left hook following an exchange of leg kicks. Both fighters were active with their kicks, but Kilburn was certainly the aggressor early. With just over two minutes remaining in the round, Jenkins jumped up and threw a switch knee to the chin of Kilburn, and it landed clean, knocking Kilburn out cold.
WINNER: Brandon Jenkins by KO at 2:56 of Round 1
This was a fantastic knockout to begin the night. Kilburn was aggressive on the feet, and it felt as though Jenkins was falling behind in the fight, but he always looked comfortable despite Kilburn’s pressure, and picked his moment to attack perfectly. Jenkins asked for a contract in his post fight interview, and he improved to 14-6 professionaly with this win.
ALEJANDRO FLORES (18-3, 145.5) VS CARL DEATON (13-4, 1 NC, 146) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Flores caused Deaton to stumble slightly with a combination of body shots, but Deaton did not appear hurt. Flores was active with his leg kicks, but neither fighter had a spectacular output throughout the first. Close round due to inactivity, but I gave the edge to Flores. 10-9 Flores.
Both fighters looked a bit more aggressive to begin round two. That aggression did not last long, and the commentary team criticized both fighters for their performances thus far. Deaton sat Flores down with a left hook, but Flores recovered quickly. There was a striking sequence that followed, in which Flores was grounded once more, but it appeared to be more of a slip this time. Regardless, there certainly seemed to be a power advantage in favour of Deaton, at least in his hands. Flores landed a jumping front kick to the face near the end of the round. 19-19.
With a minute left in the final round, neither fighter had pulled ahead in any significant fashion. Flores defended a takedown attempt from Deaton, and he followed that up with a body shot late in the round. This was a dull five minutes. 29-28 Flores for me, but this last round was a coinflip.
WINNER: Alejandro Flores by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
I was not surprised in the slightest to see this one end in a split decision. Neither fighter was quite aggressive enough offensively, and the fight pretty much came down to the final round, where Flores was able to stay the slightest of steps ahead. Not exactly a great fight, but Flores ultimately picked up the win here in his PFL debut.
JASON KNIGHT (22-6, 145.75) VS BOBBY MOFFETT (13-6, 1 NC, 148.25) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Moffett missed weight by 2.25 lbs, and was fined a percentage of his purse.
Moffett shot for a takedown just outside of the opening minute, but Knight was able to sprawl and began to work for an inverted triangle. Chael Sonnen was writing a message to his mother with the telestrator. Knight began to throw heavy punches to the body of Moffett, but lost his position in the process, and they returned to the feet. Moffett attempted to make up some ground in the final minute, but I still scored the round for Knight. 10-9 Knight.
Once again, Moffett shot for takedown about a minute into the round, but this time, he was successful. Moffett was able to smother Knight to the ground for about two minutes before Knight made it back to his feet. Unfortunately for Knight, Moffett picked him up against the cage, and dumped him right back to the ground. 19-19.
Knight secured a takedown of his own to begin round three, but Moffett was able to roll into top position. Once again, Moffett was able to ride out the vast majority the round in top position, and I scored this fight in his favour. 29-28 Moffett.
WINNER: Bobby Moffett by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Moffett definitely had a wrestling heavy gameplan going into this fight, and while it backfired in the first round, he was able to control Knight for the remaining ten minutes, securing the final two rounds on the scorecards. This win broke a string of a losses for Moffett, who picked up his first win in the PFL here.
ANTHONY DIZY (13-4, 145.5) VS JESSE STIRN (11-5, 144.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Stirn was constantly moving early, however Dizy was eventually able to close the distance, and he wrapped Stirn up against the cage. He wasn’t able to bring Stirn to the ground, and Stirn was eventually able to break away. Dizy landed an uppercut, and Stirn was able to response with a hook. 10-9 Stirn.
Dizy continued to search for a takedown in round two. He was successful this tie, and he began to work from half guard. Dizy was not incredibly active from top position, but he was able to maintain top control throughout the round, and despite a late flying knee from Stirn, Dizy was clearly up going into round three. 20-18 Dizy.
They exchanged some hard punches in the opening minutes of the third round, but these moments were few and far between, and time was starting to run out on Jesse Stirn. After a minute or so with his back to the cage, Stirn was able to break away and the fight ended on the feet. It was the closest round of the fight, and I narrowly awarded the round to Stirn. 29-28 Dizy.
WINNER: Anthony Dizy by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Dizy was a sizeable favourite going into this fight, and while I wouldn’t say he dominated, he got the job done here against a tricky opponent. The scoring of this one was pretty simple, with Dizy clearly taking the first two rounds, and the third round going to Stirn based on activity. Dizy was able to get back in the win column here after losing to Chris Wade in his PFL debut, and is now 1-1 in the promotion.
CHRIS CAMOZZI (26-15, 203.5) VS CORY HENDRICKS (8-3, 205.5) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
Camozzi was the more active fighter in the opening minutes. By the mid-way point of the round, Hendricks had connected on two strikes. Camozzi was fairly active with his leg kicks, and they were beginning to affect the lead leg of Hendricks by the end of the round. This was an easy round to score in favour of Camozzi. 10-9 Camozzi.
Hendricks was able to drag Camozzi to the ground, but a leg lock attempt from Camozzi allowed him to maneuver his way to top position. Remarkably, Hendricks scrambled to the back of Camozzi almost instantly, and nearly sunk in a rear naked choke. Hendricks was unable to secure the submission, and Camozzi threatened a kimura that allowed him to move back to top position. Very close round. 20-18 Camozzi.
Both fighters connected with heavy hooks early in the final round. Camozzi was putting together his combinations, forcing Hendricks to shell up at times. Hendricks was looking tired, but was still throwing with enough power to keep Camozzi from overwhelming him. The fight went the distance. 30-27 Camozzi.
WINNER: Chris Camozzi by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Camozzi had a fairly strong performance here. It felt as though Hendricks never really got going, and Camozzi was able to get the better of the action on the feet, as well as on the ground. Camozzi was part of some entertaining fights throughout the 2021 PFL season, and he expressed his interest in being an alternate for the light heavyweight finals in his post fight interview.
SHEYMON MORAES (12-5, 146) VS LAZAR STOJADINOVIC (14-8, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Two minutes into the fight, there had only been a single strike landed, a jab from Moraes. The activity did not pick up much as the fight continued, and Chael Sonnen was asking whether Moraes was aware that the fight had started yet. They both completed takedowns, but neither man was able to keep the other down for long. You could score this round for either man without argument from me.
Moraes landed a push kick to the face early in round two. Stojadinovic began to look for a takedown against the cage, to no success. Moraes attempted to flip Stojadinovic to the ground, but Stojadinovic was able to maintain his balance. Moraes ripped into the body, prompting Stojadinovic to respond with an uppercut. Moraes connected with a beautiful step-in knee to the body, as well as a pair of hooks throughout the latter part of the round that Stojadinovic did not react to well. With less then thirty seconds remaining in the round, Moraes landed an overhand right that sent Stojadinovic to the floor, and Moraes threw down ground and pound until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Sheymon Moraes by TKO at 4:45 of Round 2
As slow as the first round was, the action really picked up in round two, culminating with the knockout blow from Moraes. He really turned it around here, and his willingness to engage in some dangerous exchanges with Stojadinovic throughout round two made for an entertaining round. Moraes is now 2-1 in the PFL, with both of those wins coming from second round finishes.
Gable Steveson, Francis Ngannou and Ray Lewis were all interviewed before the first fight of the main card, which did not occur until the one-hour mark of the main cards broadcast, due to a high school football game airing on ESPN. I somehow retained my sanity throughout this lengthy delayed, filled by the broadcast team previewing the four remaining fights, repeatedly.
CEZAR FERREIRA (14-9, 205.25) VS MARTHIN HAMLET (7-2, 205.75) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT FINALS BOUT
Seconds into the fight, Ferreira collapsed as he threw a front kick, seemingly injuring his other leg. Hamlet followed him to the ground with strikes, and the fight was stopped moments later.
WINNER: Marthin Hamlet by TKO at 0:13 of Round 1
It doesn’t get much stranger then this. After over an hour of the broadcast team filling time, the fighter’s step into the cage, and it’s over in seconds following a freak hamstring injury. There isn’t too much to break down here, but it’s obviously a devastating night for Ferreira, who was forced to wait in the back for well over an hour, before walking out to this result. Regardless, Hamlet will advance to the light heavyweight finals with this win, where he will be set to meet the winner of Antonio Carlos Jr. and Emiliano Sordi.
EMILIANO SORDI (23-8-1, 206) VS ANTONIO CARLOS JR. (11-5, 2 NC, 205.5) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT FINALS BOUT
Sordi defended Carlos Jr.’s first takedown of the fight. The striking numbers were fairly even, although Sordi seemed to have a bit more behind his punches. Sordi cracked Carlos Jr. with an overhand right, but got caught by a straight right hand as he began to push forward. Carlos Jr. landed another hard right hand towards the end of a close round. 10-9 Sordi.
Near the start of the second round, Sonnen referred to Carlos Jr. as a knockout artist, which has to rank high amongst the most absurd statements that have ever been uttered in MMA. Sordi cut Carlos Jr. above his left eye, and landed a nice body shot as he moved in later on in the round. Sordi defended another takedown attempt, and dodged an overhand right moments later. Carlos Jr. finally completed takedown towards the end of the round, but Sordi popped right back up. 20-18 Sordi.
Carlos Jr. was able to drag Sordi back to the ground in round three, and he was briefly able to take the back of Sordi. Sordi shrugged Carlos Jr. off of him, before defending another takedown attempt and creating some separation. Carlos Jr. brought him back to the ground with a minute remaining in the round, ending things in a strong position. I scored the fight 29-28 for Emiliano Sordi.
WINNER: Antonio Carlos Jr. by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
I was definitely in the minority with my scorecard, so I can’t argue with the judge’s decision here, but I did think the 30-27 in favour of Carlos Jr. was a bit out there. Still, it was a good fight, and Carlos Jr. was able to secure the decision with his grappling late, after really struggling to take Sordi down early. With this win, Antonio Carlos Jr. secured his spot in the light heavyweight finals, where he is now set to face Marthin Hamlet for the million-dollar prize.
CHRIS WADE (19-6, 145.5) VS BUBBA JENKINS (16-4, 146) – FEATHERWEIGHT PLAYOFF BOUT
Jenkins rushed across the octagon with a flying knee attempt, and basically jumped right over him. Jenkins proceeded to take Wade down against the cage. Jenkins transitioned to the back of Wade, but Wade was able to scramble to his feet after threatening a submission. Wade attempted a takedown of his own, but was largely unsuccessful, resulting in a stalemate. I’d say Wade got the better of the grappling exchanges late in the round, and I narrowly scored the round in his favour. 10-9 Wade.
Jenkins returned to the wrestling a minute into the second round. Wade threatened a kimura, which forced Jenkins to adjust his takedown attempt, and in turn, Wade began to work for an anaconda choke. He had Jenkins in trouble with this choke, but Jenkins was able to power out of it, almost resulting in Jenkins getting trapped in a D’Arce choke moments later. Wade moved to the back of Jenkins, where he started to look for a rear naked choke. He didn’t get the submission, but this was a fantastic round for Chris Wade. 20-18 Wade.
Wade began the third round with a heel kick to the face, and Jenkins landed a hard right hand in response, before securing a takedown. It looked to me as though Jenkins was looking for an armbar, but gave up top position in the process. Wade transitioned to north-south position; however, Jenkins was able to scramble back to his feet with two and half minutes remaining. Jenkins defended a takedown attempt from Wade, before jumping on his back yet again. Moments later, it was Wade who worked his way to the back of Jenkins and he ended the round in top position. 30-27 Wade.
WINNER: Chris Wade by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
I didn’t expect Chris Wade to out grapple Jenkins in such dominant fashion here, but that’s exactly what happened. Wade was constantly able to work his way to top position whenever he was taken down, and threatened numerous submissions throughout the fight. With this win, Wade will advance to the featherweight divisions finals, where he will be set to face the winner of Brendan Loughnane and Movlid Khaybulaev.
BRENDAN LOUGHNANE (21-3, 145.75) VS MOVLID KHAYBULAEV (17-0-1, 1 NC, 145.75) – FEATHERWEIGHT PLAYOFF BOUT
Khaybulaev took Loughnane down in seconds. The strike count was actually pretty even between the two fighters, despite Loughnane working from the bottom, but Khaybulaev’s strikes obviously had a bit more behind them, and he rode out the entire round from top position. 10-9 Khaybulaev.
The first half of the second round took place on the feet, with neither man accomplishing much. Khaybulaev eventually committed to a takedown, and he was successful. Khaybulaev worked from Loughnane’s back, where he controlled the remainder of the round. 20-18 Khaybulaev.
Khaybulaev landed some solid strikes early in the third round. Loughnane began to pick up his aggression, and he landed a combination that caused Khaybulaev to stumble. Khaybulaev completed another takedown with two minutes remaining, and he spent the rest of the round in top position. Closest round of the fight, but I still gave the edge to Khaybulaev. 30-27 Khaybulaev.
WINNER: Movlid Khaybulaev by split decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Loughnane had no answers for Khaybulaev’s grappling, and that was what ultimately decided this fight. The 29-28 scorecard in favour of Loughnane was so bad that one of the commentators burst out in laughter when the score was read. Seriously, 29-28 for Loughnane is an indefensibly bad scorecard, and that judge should be held accountable. Regardless, this was a dominant performance from Khaybulaev, who will advance to the featherweight finals and face Chris Wade for the million-dollar prize.