PFL vs. Bellator Main Event Breakdown

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Although the calendar may read Feb. 24 on Saturday, we’ve got a show in MMA that could be a contender for event of the year by the time that this 366-page book known as 2024 is completely written. Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is the site for an anticipated evening of competitive violence.

The much-talked about PFL vs. Bellator super card happens on Saturday afternoon (North America time). Live coverage of this champ vs. champ show begins with prelims at 12:30 pm ET/ 9:30 am PT on ESPN+ and DAZN inside the United States. Main card action follows on pay-per-view via ESPN+ and DAZN at 3 pm ET/ noon PT.

For those curious about the price of the PPV, it’s more affordable than last Saturday night’s UFC 298 was. All it will cost you to buy PFL vs. Bellator is $50 (USD) if you preorder today. You didn’t have to be a math major in college to know that this is a $30 savings when compared to a UFC marquee event on ESPN+.

Heavyweights Collide in PFL vs. Bellator Main Event Saturday Night

Absent of any postponements between now and the weekend, the final version of PFL vs. Bellator will feature 11 MMA fights. At the top of the show is a doubleheader pitting champions of the two promotions against one another.

Immediately following the co-main event of the evening, two marquee heavyweights take to the cage in the PFL vs. Bellator main event. 2023 PFL Heavyweight Champion Renan Ferreira (12-3, 3 NC MMA, 6-1, 3 NC PFL) faces off against current Bellator MMA Heavyweight Champion Ryan Bader (31-7, 1 NC MMA, 9-2, 1 NC Bellator).

As per the terms of the fight contract, this headliner is an advertised maximum of three rounds at five minutes per round to close the show. Its winner receives the PFL/Bellator Unification Belt.Β 

On Thursday, the PFL vs. Bellator main event this Saturday night got even more interesting. During an appearance on SportsCenterΒ on PFL rightsholder ESPN, Francis Ngannou mentioned that he’ll fight either Ferreira or Bader in his MMA return later this year.

PFL vs. Bellator Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds

Heading into the PFL vs. Bellator main event on Saturday night, Renan Ferreira stands as the taller man at 6-foot-8, compared to the 6-foot-2 frame of Ryan Bader. Ferreira owns a sizable 11-inch reach advantage (85 inches to 74 inches) over Bader.

Oddsmakers have this one listed as a pick-’em. Ferreira has -115 odds on the money line, with Bader countering at -105. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening this weekend, please wager responsibly.

Ferreira Wants Ngannou Next Time Out

Renan Ferreira enters the PFL vs. Bellator main event having posted a record of 4-1 with one no-contest in his last five fights. At present, he’s on a four-fight unbeaten streak.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, he scored a second-round knockout of Denis Goltsov (32-8 MMA, 10-3 PFL) in the PFL 10 co-main event. Even before Francis Ngannou threw his hat into the ring for a fight against Saturday’s winner, Ferreira pleaded the case that he should be the guy.

“For me, this fight makes sense because I’m the best heavyweight of the world,” Ferreira said, through his translator on Nov. 24. “I’m the right guy to welcome him to the PFL.”

With a victory here, Renan Ferreira gets his wish. He has to take it one moment at a time, though, and it starts with the PFL vs. Bellator main event.

Ryan Bader Returns for First Fight in 55 Weeks Saturday

In the other corner, Ryan Bader has gone 4-1 in his last five fights. Currently, he’s on a three-fight winning streak, but it’s been a long time since he’s last fought.

Back on Feb. 4, 2023, he scored a first-round knockout (ground and pound shots) of Fedor Emelianenko (40-7, 1 NC MMA, 4-3 Bellator) in Bellator 290’s main event on CBS, his retirement fight.

After, Bader had been set to return for the landmark Bellator 300 on Oct. 7 against Linton Vassell (24-8 MMA, 12-5 Bellator) in San Diego, but Vassell had to withdraw from that card amid experiencing COVID-19 symptoms just days before the show.

Ryan Bader will have been out of the cage for exactly 55 weeks by the time the PFL vs. Bellator main event begins on Saturday night. How much ring rust has he had to shake off ahead of this one?

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

These fighters are so evenly-matched. This is everything that a good heavyweight fight should be, since both Ferreira and Bader can score the knockout.

Ferreira Can Battle Back if Needed

Sometimes in a fight, a competitor will have to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Ferreira’s fight against Goltsov on Black Friday is a textbook example.

While Goltsov was the aggressor in round one with his attempts to submit Ferreira, the latter took charge right after round two began. He landed a trio of right-handed punches to knock Goltsov down, peppering him with a flurry of hammerfists to end the fight less than 30 seconds into the period.

Should Bader dominate Ferreira in the early going, he’s got the skills needed to flip the script.

Bader Can Move Quickly

In the other corner, Ryan Bader is equally adept when it comes to landing the knockout. At times, it can come suddenly and it’s devastating, like it was in 2018 vs. Muhammad Lawal, a.k.a., King Mo.

Right after the command to fight was given, Bader uncorked a vicious left-handed shot to drop Lawal on the mat, moving into finish with a burst of ground shots. Time of the knockout: Just 15 blistering seconds.

All it will take Ryan Bader is a single punch landed right on the button. If he lands the first crisp shot of the fight, the PFL vs. Bellator main event will be done and dusted immediately after.

Final Thoughts

As we’ve chronicled in our film study today, there’s a constant among heavyweight fights in this sport: One punch can end the show. Will that hold true again on Saturday? Tune into the PFL vs. Bellator main event and find out.

Prediction: Ryan Bader by First-Round Knockout.

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Drew Zuhosky has been writing about combat sports since May of 2018, coming to MMASucka after stints at Overtime Heroics and Armchair All-Americans. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew is a charter member of the Youngstown Press Club. Prior to beginning his professional career, Drew was a sportswriter for YSU's student-run newspaper, The Jambar, where he supplied Press Box Perspective columns every week.

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