Image credit: PFL MMA
The 2022 PFL regular season rolls along this Thursday and will emanate from the Esports Stadium in Arlington, Texas. This week’s card will juxtapose inclusion from the heavyweights and featherweights for what should make for an exciting night of action.
The prelims are set to begin at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT and will be followed by the main card beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. The event will be available for streaming live on ESPN+ with the main card also available on ESPN 2.
PFL 2 Main Event: Cappelozza vs. Austin
Thursday’s main event will feature 2021 PFL heavyweight champion Bruno Cappelozza (14-5) beginning his first title defense against Englishman Stuart Austin (15-7), a one-time veteran of the league who suffered a first-round knockout defeat to Renan Ferreira, who will also be competing on Thursday night.
The Brazilian, Cappelozza, tore through the PFL last year, amassing a 4-0 record with three knockouts. Despite having fought at light heavyweight in the past with his most recent loss coming down a weight class against UFC 205-pound contender Jiří Procházka, Cappelozza is generally able to bully his opponents around the cage until he usually comes away with the knockout. When he has lost in the past, it has usually come by way of finish. In fact, the defending champion has only seen the judges’ scorecards on one occasion in his career, which also happened to be his most recent victory against Ante Delija (19-5) in the 2021 Heavyweight Tournament Championship.
Though Cappelozza was unable to come away with the knockout, it wasn’t for a lack of trying, as he dropped the Croatian Delija in the first round and nearly finished him with ground and pound later in the fight. Cappelozza had previously beaten Delija in the regular season when he knocked him out in 46 seconds.
Austin, meanwhile, has shown an ability to get the job done in a variety of ways against a variety of different opponents of differing size and experience levels. The biggest win of his career came when he made now-rising UFC heavyweight contender Tom Aspinall submit to a second-round heel hook back on the regional circuit in 2015. Since then the Brit has gone 6-5.
His most recent win came against Satoshi Ishii back in September 2020, a unanimous decision victory. If “He-Man” can extend Cappelozza and put his back to the mat, he could enjoy extended success and perhaps even spoil Cappelozza’s victory lap, but he’ll need to avoid the Brazilian’s power altogether to have a chance as five of his six defeats have come by way of KO or TKO.
PFL 2 Co-Main Event: Palmer vs. Wade
A loaded PFL main card will be co-main evented by two accomplished veterans, Americans Lance Palmer (22-5) and Chris Wade (20-7). Both Palmer and Wade competed in the 2021 regular season and had two wildly different experiences with Wade emerging as a dark horse amid the tough featherweight field while Palmer missed the postseason altogether despite being among the odds-on favorites in the lead-up.
Palmer, a former Ohio State University wrestler, drew two incredibly difficult stylistic matchups for the regular season, having to face off with another contender in Bubba Jenkins as well as the eventual champion Movlid Khaybulaev. Both defeats came by way of unanimous decision.
The good news for Palmer is that Khaybulaev will not be competing in this year’s tournament due to injury, and he is not likely to see Jenkins again after fighting him last year, so he’ll head into Thursday’s fight with a clean slate as he looks to avoid a third consecutive loss.
Wade, however, is no slouch himself, having gone on an unlikely run all the way to last year’s tournament finals. He knocked off Jenkins, a former foe of Palmer’s along the way, and got the win by forcing “Bad Man” to work early before outlasting him in the later rounds en route to a unanimous decision victory. One would have to think the path to victory for Wade would be similar against Palmer, who got outworked and outpaced by Jenkins in their fight.
Wade also happens to pack a ton of power, but if he is able to knock out Palmer, he will become the first to do so. Still, Palmer should have a sound wrestling advantage on Thursday, as he will against most possible opponents this year. As a result, it is not out of the realm of possibility that one or both men could come out of Thursday’s fight as a legitimate contender for the 145 lb. crown, particularly with Khaybulaev on the sidelines.
Rest of the Card
Thursday’s main card will continue to feature some intriguing matchups showcasing the depth of talent and variety of styles in both divisions.
A heavyweight tilt between Ferreira (8-2) and Jamelle Jones (12-7) will be among the featured fights with both fighters having competed in the previous season. Jones is very much a kill-0r-be-killed fighter and with the 6-foot-8 Ferreira standing in front of him, this fight will be must-see television for as long as it lasts.
PFL fans will also be treated to a featherweight bout between Japan’s Ryoji Kudo (10-2-1) and fan-favorite Brendan Loughnane (21-4) from the United Kingdom. Kudo has had some success on the Japanese regional scene, even having competed twice for ONE FC in the past. He’ll draw a tough assignment against Loughnane in his stateside debut, a fighter who is no stranger to adversity. The Dana White Contender Series reject got the 2021 regular season started with a bang when he knocked out UFC veteran and Muay Thai specialist Sheymon Moraes in a knockout of the year contender for the promotion, and he’ll hope for a similar fate against Kudo.
The rest of the card will feature fun fights and special talents, such as 2021 playoff debutant Jenkins (16-5) taking on Kyle Bochniak, who fans will remember for his wild scrap with Zabit Magomedsharipov in the UFC. Bochniak has gone 3-0 since getting cut from the promotion and will set out to further legitimize himself against Jenkins, a former Arizona State University wrestler.
Delija will also be in action and hope to score some points against Matheus Scheffel (15-7), a pupil of PRIDE and UFC veteran Cristiano Marcello.