PFL 8 Preview and Predictions

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PFL 8 2021 goes live from Hollywood, Florida on Thursday, August 19th, as the 2021 Professional Fighter’s League Playoffs rolls on.

It’s the second of three PFL playoff cards this summer, as the heavyweight and women’s lightweights go at it on Thursday, August 19th from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

PFL 8 2021 Preview and Predictions

PFL 8 2021 is headlined by the two-time Judo Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison, as she takes on the City Kickboxing product Genah Fabian in the second of two women’s lightweight semi-finals.

The other PFL women’s lightweight semi-final sees Mariana Morais coming in on 24 hours notice to take on Taylor Guardado. Morais was slated to face Claudia Zamora on the PFL 8 2021 preliminary card. However, due to Larissa Pacheco missing weight, Morais was elevated from her No. 5 ranking into the PFL playoffs.

On the men’s heavyweight side, the first of two semi-finals sees Russian Denis Goltsov taking on the Croatian Ante Delija. Goltsov is 5-1 in the PFL, with 4 of 5 wins coming by way of stoppage. He takes on the very durable Delija in what is sure to be an entertaining firefight.

The co-main event of PFL 8 2021 sees Bruno Cappelozza come in as the strong betting favorite against Jamelle Jones. Cappeloza came onto the PFL scene this year with a bang and will look to move onto the PFL finals with a win over the Dana White Contender Series and CFFC vet Jones.

Denis Goltsov vs. Ante Delija

Denis Goltsov comes into his bout with Ante Delija holding a 27-6 record, winning 22 of his last 24 fights. He takes on Ante Delija, who is 18-4, having won three of his previous four bouts between the PFL and KSW.

Ante Delija is the Croatian version of Shogun Rua and is a very durable and tenacious fighter. While he probably gives up the overall skill edge in this match-up, Goltsov will have his hands full against the pressure-fighting style of Delija.

Goltsov does have four finishes to his name in the PFL but has picked up the stoppages late in fights. His tendency to come out cold could hurt him against a very well-rounded and tough Delija.

While Golstov probably edges out the victory in this match, there is a slight chance that Delija can come out with high volume and turn the tide of the fight before Golstov gets going. Golstov probably has more tools at his disposal and should pick up the win in this match-up. Prediction: Goltsov via 3rd Round T/KO

Mariana Morais vs. Taylor Guardado

Mariana Morais comes in as the ultra short-notice replacement, gaining another shot at the PFL Finals. Morais moves up from her No. 5 ranking into the PFL playoffs, with Larissa Pacheco failing to make weight. She takes on the Xtreme Couture product in Taylor Guardado.

As an amateur, Guardado had a successful run, going 8-1, with her only loss coming to Ronda Rousey. However, Guardado took a ten-year hiatus from the sport, returning to MMA via Invicta FC last year. Since her return, Guardado has gone 2-1, with back-to-back wins in the PFL regular season.

As for Mariana Morais, the Brazillian brawler trains with the likes of Jessica Andrade and has a fighting style that shows it. The 26-year-old Morais is a scrappy fighter with a mean streak to her and has what it takes to get the win over the far less expierienced Guardado.

Guardado is a wrestling-based fighter, in every sense of the word. If the fight remains standing, Morais will have a clear-cut advantage. However, if Guardado can get the fight to the mat, she may be savvy enough in top position to keep control of Morais and grind out a fifteen-minute decision. Prediction: Morais via 3rd Round T/KO

Bruno Cappelozza vs. Jamelle Jones

The co-main event of the evening features the second of two PFL heavyweight semi-finals, as the 12-5 Brazillian, Bruno Cappelozza, takes on the 12-6 American, Jamelle Jones.

Cappelozza is 2-0 since making his PFL debut this season, with both wins coming by way of storage. Cappelozza’s most recent loss was back in 2018, which came against then RIZIN FC light-heavyweight champion Jiri Prochazka via first-round knock-out. After that loss, Cappelozza had a two-year layoff away from the sport, returning to the PFL this season. Cappelozza came onto the scene with a bang, knocking out fellow semi-finalist Ante Delija in just 41 seconds. Cappelozza followed up the performance with another KO victory over Mo DeReese, securing his spot in the PFL playoffs back in June at PFL 6 2021.

As for Jamelle Jones, the former CFFC heavyweight champion came into the PFL regular season as a short-notice replacement. Jones needed a first-round win to secure a spot in the heavyweight playoffs, and delivered. Picking up the stoppage win over Klidson Abreau in just a minute and forty-three seconds, Jones launched himself into semi-finals with just a single fight to his name in regular season.

Cappelozza will hold a two inch height, and four inch reach advantage in this match-up, and comes in as the younger fighter by just over a year. Cappelozza is the slightly more athletic fighter, however both men have stopping power in their hands. While this fight will more than likely start off competitive in the opening moments, it should swing towards Cappelozza one way or another. Although Jamelle Jones is a talented fighter with a well-rounded skill set, the punching power of Cappelozza may be the eraser for any problems Jones causes. Prediction: Cappelozza via 1st Round KO.

Kayla Harrison vs. Genah Fabian

The main event of PFL 8 2021 sees former two-time Olympic Judo champion Kayla Harrison take on the City Kickboxing product Genah Fabian for a chance at the PFL women’s lightweight finals. 

Harrison is 10-0 since making her 2018 MMA debut and comes in as the massive betting favorite over Fabian. In fact, across Kayla Harrison’s 10 MMA appearances, she carries an average betting line of -1350 and has yet to be lined at odds of -900 or less in her MMA career. 

Kayla Harrison has been in a league of her own, the PFL, and apart from two decision wins over the now-ousted Larissa Pacheco, Kayla Harrison has had a walk in the park across the PFL women’s lightweight field. 

As far as this match-up goes, Harrison probably faces the most dynamic striker to date in Fabian. While the Judo champion Harrison can probably make short work of Fabian on the mat, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Harrison test her stand-up game for the opening moments of the fight. 

Harrison will likely let this fight be competitive for as long as she wants it to be. If Harrison does choose to go toe to toe with Fabian, she puts herself in a dangerous position, as Fabian has two stoppage wins to her name in the PFL thus far. While it is a risk to step into the pocket against such a potent striker, Harrison should be able to get this fight to the mat and snatch a late first-round submission. Prediction: Harrison by 1st Round Submission.

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Al Mac is a Canadian combat sports writer specializing in betting odds and historical betting trends. Follow on Twitter @AlMacOdds

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