The Professional Fighters’ League (PF) Playoffs get underway on Friday night from San Antonio, Texas, one day before UFC Nashville and Jake Paul vs. Nate Diaz. The event will emanate from the Boeing Center at Tech Port, the home to many Fury FC shows.
Eight PFL Championship hopefuls will be in action, knowing one more victory will ensure them a chance at the $1,000,000 grand prize. The show will be headlined between PFL mainstay Bubba Jenkins and Peruvian upstart Jesus Pinedo.
Fight fans can catch this week’s edition of the PFL Playoffs streaming live on ESPN+ and ESPN. The prelims can be streamed on the former platform beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT, while the main card will be available on both platforms beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
PFL Playoffs — Featherweight Semifinals
The show will feature an intriguing headliner between Jenkins and Pinedo, as both fighters bring something a little bit different to the table. Jenkins has competed on this stage before, but while he has had impressive performances inside the PFL Smart Cage, he is yet to stake his claim as a PFL champion. He has made the semifinals in three consecutive years, and made the finals last year, but came up short first to Chris Wade, and then to 2022 champion Brendan Loughnane.
Two Featherweights trying to make their Million Dollar dreams a reality. Only one gets a step closer after tonight😤
— PFL (@PFLMMA) August 4, 2023
Pinedo, on the other hand debuted in the PFL this year, and he is here because of his shocking first-round knockout of 2022 champion Loughnane. Pinedo closed on the betting line as a near 4:1 underdog, but defied what PFL fans thought was possible and punched his ticket into the PFL Playoffs. He dropped a split decision to Gabriel Alves Braga in his first fight of the season, so Jenkins should be favored barring another impressive finish from the young Peruvian.
The other featherweight semi final pits 2021 finalist Chris Wade against Alves Braga, the man who defeated Pinedo. Wade is an effective point fighter who leans on his excellent positioning and footwork to out strike his opponents, but after dropping one to Jenkins earlier in the season, Wade needed to step outside his comfort zone to score an early finish on Ryuji Kudo in his second fight. A Movlid Khaybulaev opened the door for Wade to compete in his third-straight PFL postseason tournament, and while Alves Braga is an impressive prospect, the lights have never been brighter for the 25-year-old.
Depending on how these fights play out, multiple high-stakes rematches are on the table for the featherweight finals. Will Wade and Jenkins meet for a third time with PFL gold up for grabs? Will Alves Braga and Pinedo rematch in a changing of the guard? Or will PFL fans be treated to a new matchup entirely? We will find out soon.
PFL Playoffs — Light Heavyweight Semifinals
The one thing all four light heavyweight semifinalists have in common is that they are not afraid to engage. Josh Silveira will meet Ty Flores in the co-main event. Silveira posted the highest possible score of 12 points with two first-round “finishes.” The first came mid-way through the first round against Sam Kei, but the second came as a result of a knee injury to Delan Monte one minute in to the fight. Regardless, Silveira’s offensive upside should put him in the mix to win the million dollar prize.
Flores has taken an opposite approach to his fights, winning clear decisions over Monte and Dan Spohn. The onus will be squarely on his shoulders to muck things up for Silveira, slow the fight down and force his opponent to fight at his pace.
Fighters face off for the final time before fight night
▶️ Episode 10 of 2023 PFL Fight Week: Road to the #PFLWorldChampionship is out now on the PFL MMA YouTube Channel
— PFL (@PFLMMA) August 4, 2023
The other semifinal at 205 pounds features a fun matchup between two names in Marthin Hamlet and Impa Kasanganay. Hamlet suffered a knockout defeat at the hands of Silveira last year that kept him out of the PFL Playoffs, otherwise this would mark his third consecutive appearance. Hamlet loves to wrestle and boasts big power in his hands, but has a tendency to slow down late into fights depending on how much he’s maintained a wrestling pace.
Kasanganay, meanwhile, was interesting pickup for the PFL following his UFC release. He transformed himself from a UFC welterweight to a PFL light heavyweight and earned his way into the promotion through the PFL Challenger Series. A pair of wins over Cory Hendricks, a man with a win over his opponent, and Tim Caron sealed his place in this year’s playoffs. Kasanganay can do a little bit of everything and also boasts solid power, even up at 205 pounds, though he is perhaps at his weakest when fighting off his back. If he can keep Hamlet off of him and let the hands go, he could really turn heads on Friday night.
Rest of the Card
The main card will be rounded out by Elvin Espinoza taking on Keoni Diggs. Much like Kasanganay, Espinoza earned his way to a PFL contract through the PFL Challenger Series, though he has not competed since. The lightweight will instead have a showcase fight against another name to monitor in 10-2 Diggs, who is coming off a 3-2 run in Bellator.
A five-fight preliminary card is also scheduled to take place. Thad Jean and Ali Omar are a pair of five-win welterweight prospects set to headline this portion of the night. Jean won the PFL contract that night, but now faces Omar in his first PFL fight, who also won that night. The women’s flyweights will also be in action when Desiree Yanez takes on Lisa Mauldin. While Yanez earned the contract the night of their PFL Challenger Series fights, Mauldin scored the lone finish of the night, stunning TUF 30 veteran Helen Peralta with a third-round TKO.
Elsewhere on the prelims, UFC and Fury FC veteran Anthony Ivy is set for action against Carson Hardman. Chelsea Hackett, who once fought Victoria Leonardo on Dana White’s Contender Series, will be taking on Ky Bennett at 125 pounds, and the show will be opened with a light heavyweight bout between Billy Elekana and Chuck Campbell.
With fights subject to change as always, be sure to stay locked in to MMA Sucka for up-to-the-minute results and updates!
PFL 7: 2023 Playoffs Results
Jesus Pinedo def. Bubba Jenkins via TKO (strikes) at 4:38 of Round 2 — PFL Featherweight Semifinals
Josh Silveira def. Ty Flores via TKO (strikes) at 4:44 of Round 1 — PFL Light Heavyweight Semifinals
Gabriel Braga def. Chris Wade via Split Decision (30-27, 27-30, 29-28) — PFL Featherweight Semifinals
Impa Kasanganay def. Marthin Hamlet via Knockout (Punch) at 2:24 of Round 1 — PFL Light Heavyweight Semifinals
Elvin Espinoza def. Keoni Diggs via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Thad Jean def. Ali Omar via TKO (punches) at 1:54 of Round 1
Lisa Mauldin def. Desiree Yanez via Submission (RNC) at 3:06 of Round 1
Anthony Ivy def. Carson Hardman via Submission (RNC) at 2:34 of Round 1
Chelsea Hackett def. Ky Bennett via Submission (RNC) at 4:42 of Round 2
Billy Elekana def. Chuck Campbell via Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)