Although Friday's PFL featherweight semifinal, Brendan Loughnane versus Movlid Khaybulaev won't be a $1,000,000 fight, it does have a championship feel.
Loughnane wants to sweep his appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2019, where he won but did not close the fight seeking a finish, into history with a PFL title win. Loughnane has won both his fights in the PFL regular-season, opening with a quick knockout against Sheymon Moraes, a UFC veteran, in April. He then took the No. He is the No. 1 seed.
Fourth-seeded Khaybulaev ended the regular season at 2-0. He also won a win over Lance Palmer in June, which eliminated Lance Palmer, the two-time PFL champion, from playoff contention. Khaybulaev went 17-0-1 in his career with the win.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Hollywood, Florida hosts the final of three semifinal PFL cards. The Loughnane - Khaybulaev match headlines. ET on ESPN2/ESPN+, and features a 145-pound semifinal as likewise as two light heavyweight semis.
At featherweight, No. Bubba Jenkins, third seed, faces Chris Wade, 2nd seed. Top seed Antonio Carlos Jr. will face the 2019 PFL champion (and No. 4 seed Emiliano Sordi will face No. 2 seed Cezar Ferreira faces No. 3 Marthin Hamlet
Six prelims will be held before the semifinals. They will feature a mixture of PFL newcomers and fighters from 2021.
For instant analysis, follow along as we go.
Standing, Bobby Moffett won the third round against Jason Knight's featherweight fight and was unanimously voted victor. Cooper Neill / PFL
Featherweights: Bobby Moffett def. Jason Knight by unanimous decision
Knight had taken a break from submission fighting to practice bare-knuckle fights in recent years. However, Knight returned to the cage Friday and 15 of his 22 wins were by tapout. Knight threatened to increase that number by clamping an upside-down triangle on Moffett early in the fight.
Moffett was never submitted and his defense held firm. This was particularly true in Round 3. Knight attempted to take the fight to a canvas but was stopped by Moffett for the majority of Round 3. That ultimately determined the outcome.
The bout was scored by all three judges 29-28 for Moffett, a 31 year-old man from Homewood, Illinois.
Alejandro Flores was knocked down twice by Carl Deaton in round two of their featherweight bout. Flores won a split decision because of Deaton's inaction during the fight. Cooper Neill / PFL
Featherweights: Alejandro Flores def. Carl Deaton split decision
The fight lasted 15 minutes and was relatively uneventful. Often, judges decide the outcome of a fight by what big moments they can hold onto. Flores was the more active fighter in this fight, and his movements dictated the outcome. Flores did have to overcome two flash knockdowns.
It was scored by all three judges 29-28. Two of them favored Flores (30 years old, from Mexico) who has won three consecutively.
Deaton, a 31-year-old from Michigan who trains in Las Vegas but is originally from Michigan, floored Flores twice in Round 2. He did not do much else during the rest of the fight except stalk his opponent and lose his second fight in succession.
Brandon Jenkins used a flying knee on Jacob Kilburn to stop him. He then followed it up with one punch on the ground, before the referee intervened and ended the fight. Cooper Neill / PFL
Brandon Jenkins def. Jacob Kilburn in the first round KO
Hyperbole is often used to fuel nicknames in sports like mixed martial arts. Jenkins isn't one of those people, at least not this evening. With a flying knee, the 29-year old Las Vegas native smashed Kilburn at Round 2:56 in the opening fight of the card, Jenkins lived up to his nickname "Human Highlight Reel".
Jenkins was making his PFL debut. It was his 12th career stoppage and his sixth first round finish.
There are still more to come.
Live on ESPN+
Featherweights: Sheymon Moraes vs. Lazar Stojadinovic
Cory Hendricks vs. Chris Camozzi: Light heavyweights
ESPN2/ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET
Featherweights: Brendan Loughnane against Movlid Khaybulaev
Featherweights: Chris Wade vs. Bubba Jenkins
Light heavyweights: Antonio Carlos Jr. vs. Emiliano Sordi
Light heavyweights: Cezar Ferreira vs. Marthin Hamlet