On Friday, six fighters will have the opportunity to win $1 million at the 2022 PFL finals. Those six fighters got to make their case today at a PFL press conference at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. Kayla Harrison (15-0), Larissa Pacheco (18-4), Brendan Loughnane (25-4), Sadibou Sy (12-6-2), Dilano Taylor (10-2), Bubba Jenkins (19-5), Ante Delija (22-5), Matheus Scheffel (17-8), Stevie Ray (25-10), Olivier Aubin-Mercier (16-5), Omari Akhmedov (24-7-1), and Rob Wilkinson (16-2) were all present to talk to the media ahead of their fights.
Kayla Harrison vs Larissa Pacheco
The main event of the night will be the third outing between these two. Harrison, an Olympic gold medalist in Judo, undefeated MMA fighter, and two-time PFL champion has beaten Pacheco twice. When asked about her rivalry with Pachecho, she questioned whether it could count as one. “Can you call it a rivalry if you’ve never won a round,” she asked. For this season, Pachecho finished all of her opponents in the first round. But the Brazilian’s punching power does not faze Harrison. “I’m not worried about getting hit. I’m going to break her.”
Pachecho isn’t letting the two losses to Harrison get to her. She is extremely confident going into this fight and sees herself getting her hand raised. “I don’t see a lot of changes in her game… This is my time. I’ve worked hard,” she said.
Bubba Jenkins vs Brendan Loughnane
The co-main event of the show will see these two incredibly confident and well-rounded featherweights clash. “I just truly believe I’m the better mixed martial artist all around. I’ve been doing this sh*t longer,” Loughnane said. Jenkins, who did not make it to the finals last year, said this season will be his for the taking. “We’ve done everything in this camp to be well rounded… I believe I will be putting all of my attributes on display.” The banter leading up to their fight has been friendly but Jenkins knows the stakes of $1 million can mean a lot for him and his family. “Love or him or hate him, I’m gonna knock his head off for a million dollars,” Jenkins said joking. “I like him but I love my children.” Check out our interview with Loughnane below which we conducted a few months ago.
Ante Delija vs Matheus Scheffel
In the heavyweight finals, 2021 finalist Ante Delija will meet for the second time Brazilian Matheus Scheffel. Delija has beaten Scheffel by TKO at PFL 2 2022. Delija said that last year he was “50 to 60% prepared” but now he is “fully prepared and ready to take the belt.”
For Scheffel, he’s not letting the previous loss to Delija get to him. “Everything happens in life for a reason. I look at all my wins and all my losses. I’ve made some critical changes in my game,” he said. “My team and I got together after that loss and we made changes and you can see the results that came from those changes with my two wins that came shortly thereafter.”
Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs Stevie Ray
This match sounds like it should be out of a FIFA tournament. In this lightweight finals, Canada’s Olivier Aubin-Mercier will take on Scotland’s Steve Ray.
Aubin-Mercier has hinted this could be his last fight and is so that is extra motivation and drive going into the finals. “There is something special about this fight. It is the biggest fight of my career.”
Ray made it to the finals after beating former UFC champion Anthony Pettis twice. “I’ve overcome a lot of adversities before. Won fights that people doubted me and here I am today,” he said. I feel like this has been my destiny… I’m going to fight like there’s no tomorrow.”
Omari Akhmedov vs Rob Wilkinson
The light heavyweight finals will be the first meeting between Akhmedov and Wilkson. Akhmedov lost in his PFL debut last year but says those first-time jitters are gone. “I believe possibly in 2021 I didn’t feel enough pressure. That took me a little time to warm up. This year I’ve been having more fights… I think I’m in the best shape,” he said.
Wilkson, who has had only one fight go to a decision hopes that he can represent Australia as a champion. “It’d be awesome to be the first Australian to bring back a PFL world championship…. It’d mean a lot to me.”
Sadibou Sy vs Dilano Taylor
Sadibou Sy has been with the PFL since the beginning and will be in his first finals. He’ll be taking on the winner of the PFL challenger series Dilano Taylor. Taylor was initially eliminated but then got another chance as a last-minute opponent replacement. Sy is banking that all his hard work will pay off Friday. “I believe you guys will see the evolution of Sadibou.” Check out our writeup when Sy and Taylor held a media call to talk about the finals.