PFL 9 2021 Preview and Predictions

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It is the third and final PFL playoff card of the season, as the featherweight and light-heavyweights go at it on Friday, August 27th from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida on ESPN 2 and ESPN+.

PFL 9 2021 Preview and Predictions

The main card of PFL 9 2021 will be headlined by Britain’s Brendan Loughnane, as he takes on the undefeated Russian Movlid Khaybulaev for a spot on the PFL world Championships card on October 27th in Hollywood, Florida.

In the co-main event slot, PFL veteran Chris Wade will make his second semi-final appearance in the PFL Championships against fan-favorite Bubba Jenkins who made his debut PFL appearance this season and now enters his first PFL semi-final this Friday at PFL 9 2021.

Also, on the night, four PFL light-heavyweights will go head to head in a bid to earn their place in the PFL championships. The main card opener will see the Brazilian Cezar Ferreira taking on Norway’s Marthin Hamlet. Both fighters will come into this bout looking to make a statement and secure a route to the finals, Ferreira enters this fight following a loss at PFL 5, whilst Chris Wade has been successful in his last two outings, scoring a decision win at PFL 1 and a spectacular KO win at PFL 4.

The next match-up brings a South American showdown between former UFC veteran Antonio Carlos Jr as he takes on PFL 2019 winner and former light-heavyweight champion Emiliano Sordi. Both fighters enter this fight with some history, as they had both trained together at a time before their respective entrants into the PFL roster.

Let’s have a look at the rest of the main card for PFL 9.

Cezar Ferreira v Marthin Hamlet

Cezar Ferreira (14 – 9) enters this bout with the aim to make a statement following a UD loss in his PFL debut. The third-degree BJJ black belt takes on the wrestling heavy, Marthin Hamlet (7 – 2) in a match-up that on paper will likely take to the ground from the first exchange. Hamlet who also enters the fight following a loss will likely chase a signature arm-triangle finish whilst TUF Brazil winner Ferreira will look for an opening to exploit and capitalize on for the win. Both fighters have a strong case to get a win, they both bring unique skills which presented a danger to the other, however in this game there are levels, and Ferreira’s wealth of experience on the ground and ability to grind the fight out likely gets it done.


Antonio Carlos Jr v Emiliano Sordi

Brazil’s Antonio Carlos Jr (18 – 5 – 2) returns to the PFL cage optimistic despite his last outing being an NC against Vinny Magalhaes. The TUF Brazil 3 veteran won by Submission in his first bout against UFC and PFL veteran Tom Lawlor and despite the latter result, Carlos Jr is ready as ever. On Friday night, he stands across the cage from 2019 PFL champ Emiliano Sordi (23 – 8) a tough opponent who has not suffered a defeat in over three years. The Brazilian Carlos Jr will need to bring his best weapons for this as Sordi, a very accomplished finisher with 21 of his career wins coming by SUB, KO or TKO will be out to make a statement after his last outing. Sordi started this campaign with a win, although his second outing was a draw, he kept himself in the fight and clinched a playoff spot. On paper, Sordi has the record and the credentials to get the job done, his experience is also noteworthy, however, Carlos Jr does have weapons in his arsenal, an accomplished ground game which should he be able to capitalize on an error by Sordi and find a way to create openings for the takedown then this could go in the Brazilians favor. This will be an exciting back and forth, but Sordi has great stand-up, and should he stuff takedown attempts, he should be able to get the finish.


Chris Wade v Bubba Jenkins

Kicking off the featherweight bouts on the night is two fighters who have both had a very successful run in their PFL 2021 campaigns, Chris Wade takes on PFL newcomer Bubba Jenkins in a bid to reach the PFL featherweight championship finals, and will face the winner of Loughnane v Khaybulaev in October. Before his PFL tenure, Jenkins enjoyed success at BRAVE FC and Bellator bringing over a (16 – 4) record, whilst Chris Wade, a PFL veteran of 8 fights brings a (19 – 6) record overall. Ultimately, both have got what it takes to progress to the finals, however, it will likely be determined by whose style dictates the pace of the fight from the start. Jenkins, a former NCAA Division I champion has been dominant for the most part, grinding out two decision wins in his past outings, whilst Wade who also has NCAA accolades in wrestling tends to keep his fights standing, and in this fight, it comes down to whose game-plan is executed more, will it be a fast-paced, high volume fight in favor of Wade or a slow and dominant win for Jenkins?


Brendan Loughnane v Movlid Kaybulaev

So far, this PFL 2021 season has brought fans of the organization some of its most exciting matchups to date. The featherweight division has been in a league of its own and it comes down to this fight to determine who fights the winner of Jenkins v Wade in October. The division’s #1 seed, Brendan Loughnane currently holds a (21 – 3) record and was once a hot prospect to enter the UFC until some controversy in his Contender series fight led to him being snubbed. However, on his current run at 4 – 0 in the PFL, he has shown where he belongs. Loughnane welcomes Russian Movlid Khaubuleav, a PFL veteran who has yet to taste defeat in the cage and holds an unblemished (17 – 0 – 1) record. The narrative here is, classic grappler v striker scenario, both fighters have showcased their strengths in their last outings, Loughnane’s offense and confidence in his stand-up have brought back-to-back wins by KO and a gritty hard-fought war to proceed to the semi-finals, whilst Khaybuleav’s resume illustrates a style reminiscent to many fighters hailing from Dagestan, and one which former champion Lance Palmer could attest to. This pace of the fight will be determined by whose style is locked in early in the fight, for Loughnane to be victorious, he must keep the fight standing, bring a high volume combination of strikes, leg kicks, takedown defense, whereas for Khaybuleav, the key will be to keep his distance, pick his shots and shoot for the takedown and if successful, then control at will.


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Steven Irvine is a 31-year old writer out of Dundee, Scotland. His passion for MMA began in 2009 when he discovered a tape of UFC 100: Lesnar v Mir and has been hooked on the sport ever since. He created the podcasts "Steve's MMA Chats" and "MMA Lowdown" but recently joined the team at MMASucka to further contribute to the great sport of martial arts.

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