On Friday, Jun. 24, the Professional Fighters League will return to the Overtime Elite Arena in Atlanta for the second consecutive event. PFL 2022 5: Regular Season will primarily showcase the heavyweight and featherweight divisions.
The 2022 PFL season is heating up, as many playoff hopefuls make their second appearance of the calendar year and look to improve upon their positions in the standings. Among them is returning heavyweight champion Bruno Cappelozza, who will take on fellow Brazilian Matheus Scheffel in the evening’s main event.
Cappelozza currently finds himself third in the rankings, although he is actually tied with both Denis Goltsov and Renan Ferreira, as all three men have six season points. All three men will be in action on Friday, so the standings should begin to shake themselves out, unless all men once again earn the exact same number of points after their bouts.
In the co-main event, former WEC and UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis will try to make it 2-0 for his 2022 campaign, after dropping both of his fights in 2021. Pettis has already clinched a playoff appearance after defeating Myles Price via submission in the first round of their May contest. He will look to lock up the number-one lightweight seed heading into the playoffs by dispatching another former UFC lightweight in Stevie Ray. Ray struggled in his first fight of 2022, losing a decision to Alexander Martinez after coming out of a nearly three-year retirement.
The card airs in its entirety on ESPN+ starting with the preliminary card at 5:30 p.m. ET. The main card will also be available on ESPN starting at 8 p.m. ET. Let’s take a look at the preview and predictions.
Bruno Cappelozza has won all five of his contests inside the PFL; does he make it six-for-six by defeating Matheus Scheffel?
Yes, and he does it in impressive fashion. The reigning PFL champion had a great start to his 2022 season, notching a third-round TKO against Stuart Austin. He will have a repeat performance in his sophomore outing. Expect another late finish from the Brazilian juggernaut. Of the eight losses on Matheus Scheffel’s resume, six of them have come via knockout. That, combined with 14 knockout victories for Cappelozza, is a recipe for disaster for Scheffel.
Scheffel struggled in his first PFL outing, losing via TKO in the second round to Ante Delija. He is going to want to keep this fight standing, as all of his finishes have come by knockout. In fact, neither of these fighters have a submission win in their professional careers. When push comes to shove, which it literally will in this showdown, Cappelozza will show that he is the far more talented striker, and, by the second round, he will have worn down Scheffel enough that a grazing right hand causes Scheffel to lose his balance. Cappelozza will pounce on top of his opponent to grab a second straight finish.
After a rough 2021, Anthony Pettis returned to form in his 2022 debut; does the former face of mixed martial arts pick up a second consecutive win against Stevie Ray?
He will pick up the win, but the version of Anthony Pettis who graced the cover of a Wheaties box is long gone. This one will not be a return to that form.
Much was made about the struggles that Pettis had after leaving the UFC and joining the PFL. He dropped back-to-back fights to Clay Collard and Raush Manfio to begin his tenure with the organization, but with a year of experience with the season format now, the best of what’s left in the tank for “Showtime” will be on display throughout this season. That will be enough to defeat fellow UFC veteran Stevie “Braveheart” Ray.
This will be an action-packed affair, with the explosive striking of Pettis getting the better of the boxing-heavy striking attack of Ray. Both men have underrated grappling games, as their striking is largely what fans think about first when they hear these fighters’ names. After a few clinches and grappling scrambles early on, the men will settle into a largely kickboxing-oriented match. The length and evasiveness of Pettis will lead him to a unanimous-decision victory.
Chris Wade meets Kyle Bochniak in a fight many fans have earmarked as a favorite for the “Fight of the Night”; does the bout live up to the hype?
No. Call me a pessimist, but each and every time a fight is marked as a guaranteed thriller, it seemingly always lets fans down. Francis Ngannou vs. Derrick Lewis, and Michael “Venom” Page vs. Paul Daley, are two of the most notable examples. This fight won’t be as bad as those two contests, but, overall, it will be relatively lackluster.
The difference in this fight will be the wrestling of Wade. The former NCAA Division III wrestler knows that Bochniak is an incredibly durable fighter, who will walk through fire looking to land the knockout punch. Or, he will at least show his toughness for every second of the fight. With that in mind, Wade will look for the takedown early and often. He doesn’t need to secure the takedown every time, but the threat of the takedown will keep Bochniak at bay while the two engage on the feet.
Expect a sparse striking exchange in the first round, before Wade is able to take Bochniak down and keep him there, landing some underwhelming ground-and-pound. This will be a lopsided decision win for Chris Wade, but it won’t be the thrilling back-and-forth many folks are anticipating.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
Lance Palmer vs. Sheymon Moraes. The style clash here will make for a fun fight to watch. Throughout his career Palmer has faced some criticism for being a methodical wrestler who takes his time to secure a lopsided decision rather than selling out in hopes of an emphatic finish. This time out, he is matched up against a lifelong Judo player in Moraes, so it will be intriguing to see the game plan of each fighter. Regardless of the result, this preliminary fight will be a treat for wrestling and submission grappling fans to see these two engage in clinch battles and scrambles on the mat.
Main Card (ESPN/ESPN+, 8 p.m. ET)
HW: Bruno Cappelozza vs. Matheus Scheffel
LW: Anthony Pettis vs. Stevie Ray
FW: Chris Wade vs. Kyle Bochniak
HW: Renan Ferreira vs. Klidson Abreu
Preliminary Card (ESPN+, 5:30 p.m. ET)
HW: Ante Delija vs. Shelton Graves
HW: Denis Goltsov vs. Maurice Green
HW: Sam Kei vs. Juan Adams
FW: Bubba Jenkins vs. Reinaldo Ekson
FW: Lance Palmer vs. Sheymon Moraes
FW: Brendan Loughnane vs. Ago Huskic
FW: Alejandro Flores vs. Ryoji Hudo
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