Kayla Harrison (T) (PFL)

PFL 2022 9: Playoffs Preview and Predictions

The 2022 PFL Championships are all set, save for two final divisions. The women’s lightweight and men’s featherweight finalists will be determined this weekend as they each have a pair of semifinal bouts. In the women’s lightweight bout, returning champion Kayla Harrison comes into her bout with Martina Jindrova as a heavy favorite and will be looking to extend her perfect record to 15-0. Across the cage, Jindrova will look to make it two weeks in a row with a surprising upset, after Dilano Taylor stopped Rory MacDonald in the first round of their welterweight semifinal fight last week. Also in the women’s lightweight division, Larissa Pacheco looks to extend her winning streak to five by defeating Olena Kolesnyk.

Throughout the regular season, Chris Wade and Brendan Loughnane have proven themselves to be the class of the featherweight division. With last year’s champion Movlid Khaybulaev not in the competition this year, the man who ousted both fighters from last year’s playoffs, the winner of this showdown should have the inside track on winning this year’s competition. Whichever man comes out victorious will face the winner of the other semifinal bout between Ryoji Kudo and Bubba Jenkins. Jenkins came up short against Wade in last year’s playoffs and will look to do his part in trying to secure a rematch by defeating Kudo. Kudo stumbled out of the gates when he joined the PFL, dropping his first fight with the promotion to the aforementioned Loughnane.

The playoffs conclude in London, England from inside the Copperbox Arena. The event airs live in its entirety on ESPN+ starting at 12:30 p.m. ET. The main card also airs on ESPN at 2 p.m. ET.


It seems like a foregone conclusion that Kayla Harrison will advance to the women’s lightweight final; does Martina Jindrova play spoiler in their semifinal showdown?

Frankly, no. This won’t be a particularly competitive bout. Jindrova is a good fighter in a very shallow division, so it is tough to really judge her level of talent. But, based on the less than scientific “eye test”, she doesn’t have the skills to pose much of a problem for Kayla Harrison. Expect Harrison to get this fight down to the mat early and with relative ease. From there, it will be up to Jindrova whether she wants to defend against the submission and open herself up to strikes on the ground, or whether she protects her face by giving up her back and allows Harrison to work for the choke or arm bar. By the time the clock winds down in the first round, this fight will be over, and Kayla Harrison will be one step closer to securing another season title and million dollar prize.

Chris Wade’s last fight was an incredible 70-second knockout over Kyle Bochniak; does he have an equally magical performance against Brendan Loughnane and earn a second straight trip to the featherweight final?

It is tough to think of how Chris Wade could improve on his last performance. It is highly unlikely that he will be able to do to Loughnane what he did to Bochniak, but this will be a fun and competitive fight throughout. The last loss both men suffered came at the hands of Movlid Khaybulaev, and they both went the distance and came up short via decision.

Despite what Dana White might think, Loughnane is a proven finisher. He has 12 knockouts so far in his career and should have the power advantage in this scrap. He will use those heavy hands to try and stifle the high-pressure wrestling and grappling attack from Wade. This comes down to a matter of who has success implementing their game plan. For my money, I favor Wade to be able to get the fight down to the mat early on and wear on Loughnane in the first round. As the fight continues, Loughnane will have his moments and land a smattering of heavy punches, but Wade will get the better of the grappling for extended periods in each round and earn a unanimous decision win, as he makes it back to the championship fight for the second consecutive year.

Ryoji Kudo went 1-1 in the regular season but earned another points to pick up a spot in the playoffs; can he make good on the opportunity and get past Bubba Jenkins?

Probably not. Kudo is certainly a talented fighter but he’s a notch below the rest of the other semifinalists. This will be a good fight for Bubba Jenkins to show off his wrestling skills and earn a lopsided decision victory. It won’t be flashy, but with a spot in the final on the line, expect Jenkins to control the action from start to finish with his heavy top pressure. Fans don’t always like a risk-averse fight, but it makes sense that Jenkins would avoid big risks on the feet as well as not overcommitting to the finish on the mat so that Kudo isn’t able to sneak in a submission when Jenkins is out of position.

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

It’s the final bout of the night but because it is taking place after the playoff fights, Marcin Held vs. Myles Price is flying under the radar. Both men have struggled recently but they have been in the cage against some very high level opponents. With each man having his back against the wall, they are going to come out looking to make an emphatic statement as they look ahead into 2023 so regardless of who comes out on top this should be a frenetic fight as long as it lasts.

Fight Pick
Main and Postlim Cards (ESPN+/ESPN, 2 p.m. ET)
LW: Marcin Held vs. Myles Price Held
HW: Louie Sutherland vs. Abraham Bably Sutherland
WW: Tayo Odunjo vs. Magnus Iversen Odunjo
BW: Ali Taleb vs. Darius Mafi Taleb
Women’s LW Semifinals: Kayla Harrison vs. Martina Jindrova Harrison
FW Semifinal: Chris Wade vs. Brendan Loughnane Wade
Women’s LW Semifinals: Larissa Pacheco vs. Olena Kolesnyk Pacheco
FW Semifinal: Ryoji Kudo vs. Bubba Jenkins Jenkins
Women’s FlyW: Dakota Ditcheva vs. Hassna Jaber Ditcheva
LHW: Simeon Powell vs. Joao Paolo Fagundes Powell
Preliminary Card (ESPN+, 12:30 p.m. ET)
HW: Stuart Austin vs. Sofiane Boukichou Austin
LW: Omar Hussein vs. Alex Chizov Hussein
BW: Zebenzui Ruiz vs. Raphael Uchegbu Ruiz