Ali Isaev (T) (Ryan Loco/PFL)

Professional Fighters League 2021 Heavyweight Season Preview

Riley Kontek Staff Writer

The Professional Fighters League returns on April 23 with its third season. Over the weeks and months that follow, the company will host its 2021 regular season, which features featherweight, lightweight, welterweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight competition on the men’s side and lightweight competition on the women’s side.

The 2021 season airs on ESPN2 and ESPN+ and aims to give fighters a chance to win a $1 million grand prize.

As the season approaches, Combat Press will preview each division. Let’s look at heavyweight, where Ali Isaev seeks to repeat as the champion.


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The Favorite: Isaev

The reigning kingpin seems to be the outright favorite for this season as well. The wrestling-heavy, undefeated fighter has proven himself against solid heavyweight talent in the PFL. Former UFC star Fabricio Werdum could definitely give Isaev a run for his money, and likely ranks as the favorite in the minds of many people. That’s a fair assessment, but Werdum’s layoff since his last bout moves him to the second spot behind the grinding Isaev.

The Dark Horse: Renan Ferreira

There are some good, young heavyweights on this season’s roster, including Ante Delija and Mohammed Usman. However, due to the lack of name recognition, the dark horse has to be Ferreira. The Brazilian is a finisher who most recently choked out current UFCer Jared Vanderaa. Ferreira is a 6-foot-10, 250-pound monster who runs with Team Nogueira. He could cause some problems and surprise people this season.

The Longshot: Bruno Cappolezza

Given some of the available heavyweight talent that the PFL could have signed for this season, it was shocking to see Cappolezza make the 2021 roster. At 10-5, he doesn’t have the greatest record. Most of his fights have come on the Brazilian regional scene, which oftentimes does not provide the highest caliber of competition. However, he has bested UFC roster member Klidson Abreu. There aren’t a lot of match-ups this season where he could score a victory.

The Finals Prediction: Isaev vs. Werdum

The top two heavyweights this season are Isaev and Werdum. There are definitely some tough guys they will have to get through in order to meet in the finals. Ante Delija and Denis Goltsov, among others, could play spoiler for the pairing that the PFL likely wants. A showdown between a top-notch wrestler in Isaev and a world-class grappler like Werdum could be fun and would definitely draw some eyes to the PFL product.

Power Rankings
  1. Ali Isaev
  2. Fabricio Werdum
  3. Ante Delija
  4. Denis Goltsov
  5. Justin Willis
  6. Renan Ferreira
  7. Mohammed Usman
  8. Hatef Moeil
  9. Brandon Sayles
  10. Bruno Cappolezza
PFL 2021 #3 Fight Picks

Fight Pick
Fabricio Werdum vs. Renan Ferreira Werdum
Ali Isaev vs. Hatef Moeil Isaev
Mohammed Usman vs. Brandon Sayles Usman
Denis Goltsov vs. Justin Willis Goltsov
Ante Delija vs. Bruno Cappolezza Delija