Kayla Harrison (top) (Dave Mandel/Invicta FC)

PFL 2022 6: Regular Season Preview and Predictions

On Friday, Jul. 1, the Professional Fighters League will return to the Overtime Elite Arena in Atlanta, as PFL 2022 6: Regular Season features the final regular season bouts in the women’s lightweight and men’s welterweight divisions. Headlining the card will be the 13-0 powerhouse judoka Kayla Harrison as she takes on late replacement Kaitlin Young after her original opponent, Julia Budd, had to pull out with an injury.

There is no question that Harrison is the best female lightweight fighter on the planet, but with the way the points are allocated in the PFL, she will need a quick win to have a shot at overtaking Larissa Pacheco for the top spot in the postseason. Harrison won her first fight by decision, and therefore, she was awarded three points. That currently sees her in the number-two position overall, three points behind Pacheco and tied with Martina Jindrova and Olena Kolesnyk. If Harrison gets a win on Friday before the judges are necessary, she has a shot at overtaking the top spot in the rankings, depending on the outcome of Pacheco’s fight earlier in the night. The woman standing in the way of Harrison is Young, a veteran of 25 pro fights with some mixed results throughout her career. It is a steep hill for Young to climb if she is going to try and take the zero away from Harrison’s loss column.

The co-main event takes place in the men’s welterweight division as former Bellator champion Rory Macdonald looks to add to his lead as the number-one seed in his final regular season performance. He takes on Sadibou Sy, who, despite having the same number of points as three other fighters in the division, finds himself on the outside of the playoff picture at the moment by virtue of tiebreakers. A finish by either fighter could give them the top seed overall, depending on the outcomes of the earlier fights in the night at 170 pounds.


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.

Kayla Harrison is yet to taste defeat since becoming a mixed martial artist; will Kaitlin Young be the fighter to bounce Harrison from the ranks of the unbeaten?

No, this will be the fight where Kayla Harrison is able to pick up six points and bolster her position heading into the playoffs. Kaitlin Young is a fighter with a 12-12-1 overall record and has dropped her last two outings. Those losses came against tough competition in Mariana Morais and Julia Budd, but neither of those fighters are on the level of Harrison. Also, looking back at those fights, there was nothing that Young showed in defeat that would lead one to believe that she had a wrinkle to her game that would pose problems for the undefeated Olympic gold medalist. Half of Young’s losses have come before the final bell, and this one will be her seventh overall loss by stoppage.

The only questions to me are how quickly does Kayla Harrison get the finish and by what method? In my opinion, this fight ends before the first round comes to a close and likely by submission. Expect Harrison to know that she needs an early finish to have a shot at taking the number-one seed, and, with that in mind, land a successful takedown under a minute into the contest. With that, she will work to improve her position to side control, isolate an arm and look for a kimura or keylock. Not wanting to have her arm snapped, Young will tap quickly, and Harrison will earn six points, making her season total nine.

Rory MacDonald is currently the top seeded welterweight for the PFL 2022 season; does he earn enough points to secure the number-one spot heading into the playoffs?

Heading into the final regular season bout, Rory Macdonald has a three-point advantage over all other playoff contenders. As long as he picks up a finish against Sadibou Sy, he will secure his top ranking heading into the playoffs. Macdonald will get the finish, but it won’t come easily or early.

The Canadian will struggle to take Sy down early, and the fight will largely remain standing for the first several minutes. It won’t be until late in the second round, when Sy is beginning to fatigue, due to the defensive wrestling he will have to do continuously, that “The Red King” gets the takedown and is able to maintain top position. After ending the second round in complete control, it will be an early takedown in Round 3 that is the beginning of the end for Sy. He will be totally gassed, and Macdonald will reign down methodical ground-and-pound until the referee calls a halt to the fight. A third-round TKO win will earn Macdonald four points, and clinch his number-one seed in the playoffs, as he looks to have a much more successful 2022 in the PFL than he did in his debut season last year with the organization.

Ray Cooper III had a disappointing 2022 debut, missing weight and losing his first fight; can he right the ship by defeating Brett Cooper?

Yes, this will be the performance Ray Cooper III needs to reclaim his place as one of the most elite welterweights in the world. He currently sits with minus-one point overall, because he missed weight, so his playoff hopes are all but gone, but he needs a big win nonetheless. If for nothing else, than to prove to himself, and his fans, that at 29 years old his best days are still ahead of him.

Brett Cooper is no slouch, and he is a grizzled veteran of MMA with 44 professional bouts. Brett will do everything he can to keep this fight upright, where he can be competitive. However, Ray will be the faster fighter, and he will be able to use his explosivity to land an early takedown. Brett will have very little success getting back to his feet, and, knowing that he needs an emphatic performance, Ray will unload with punches on the canvas and notch a first-round TKO victory. This version of Ray Cooper III will be much better than the lackluster version of “Bradda Boy” that we saw in his 2022 PFL debut against Carlos Leal.

Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?

Jarrah Al-Silawi vs. Magomed Umalatov. Al-Silawi picked up a very closely contested split decision against veteran Gleison Tibau in his first regular season fight, and, if he is going to make the playoffs, he will need to hand Umalatov his first professional loss. It is an understatement to say that that will be no easy task.

Al-Silawi has shown to be the more versatile finisher with seven knockout finishes and five submission wins. Umalatov has notched nine knockout wins in his eleven pro bouts, and he will look to use that devastating power to end this fight early. This fight will be interesting to see whether or not Al-Silawi can withstand the firepower of Umalatov and find his own openings, either on the feet or in the grappling realm. This fight could steal the show.

Fight Pick
Main Card (ESPN/ESPN+, 8 p.m. ET)
Women’s LW: Kayla Harrison vs. Kaitlin Young Harrison
WW: Rory MacDonald vs. Sadibou Sy Macdonald
WW: Ray Cooper III vs. Brett Cooper Cooper III
WW: Magomed Magmedkerimov vs. Joao Zeferino Magomedkerimov
Women’s LW: Larissa Pacheco vs. Genah Fabian Pacheco
WW: Jarrah Al Silawi vs. Magomed Umalatov Al Silawi
Preliminary Card (ESPN+, 5:30 p.m. ET)
WW: Nikolay Aleksakhin vs. Carlos Leal Leal
Women’s LW: Marina Mokhnatkina vs. Abigail Montes Montes
Women’s LW: Martina Jindrova vs. Zamzagul Fayzallonva Jindrova
Women’s LW: Olena Kolesnyk vs. Vanessa Melo Melo