On Thursday, Jun.8, the Professional Fighters League will be resuming the 2023 Regular Season, as PFL 4, features bouts in the featherweight and light heavyweight divisions. This will mark the shift from Las Vegas to Atlanta, where the next three cards will take place at the Overtime Elite Arena. Headlining the card will be 2022 featherweight champion Brendan Loughnane, as he faces Jesus Pinedo. The champ opened up the 2023 season with a second-ound, leg-kick knockout of veteran Marlon Moraes back in April. On the same card, Peru’s Pinedo dropped a split decision to Gabriel Alves Braga.
Also on the card will be longtime Norwegian PFL standout, and light heavyweight, Marthin Hamlet, as he faces Australia’s Sam Kei. Hamlet had a good run in the 2022 season, picking up two wins in three outings, but his loss to Josh Silveira proved to hold him back from advancing. However, he opened up the 2023 season with a first-round submission of Mohammad Fakhreddine, and, subsequently, the light heavyweight roster, among others, got a major shake-up when 10 fighters received doping suspensions from the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Among those suspended were Fakhreddine and 2022 light heavyweight champion Rob Wilkinson. This put Hanlet at the top of the heap, alongside Silveira, who also scored six points in his first fight, when he scored a first-round submission over Kei.
The remainder of the card will be stacked head-to-toe with a bunch of PFL, Bellator and UFC veterans, including 2021 PFL featherweight champ Movlid Khaybulaev, Bubba Jenkins and Andrew Sanchez.
The PFL 4: 2023 Regular Season preliminary card airs live on ESPN+ starting at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the main card on ESPN at 10 p.m. ET. Let’s take a look at the preview and predictions.
Brendan Loughnane got off to a hot start in his 2023 debut; does he keep the momentum rolling and topple Jesus Pinedo?
Absolutely. Brendan Loughnane is no joke, and Dana White not signing him, after his Contender Series win over Bill Algeo four years ago, still proves to be one of the dumbest Contender Series decisions the UFC boss has made since the show started.
The Englishman’s last loss was to the aforementioned Khaybulaev two years ago, and it was a close split decision. Before that, he was on a seven-fight winning streak dating back to Jul. 2017. Since his last loss, he went 4-0 in 2022, including a fourth-round TKO of Bubba Jenkins in the final to win the one-million-dollar prize, and he opened up the 2023 season with a nasty leg-kick finish of Marlon Moraes, who was the longtime World Series of Fighting bantamweight champion. The WSOF was the predecessor organization to the PFL.
Loughnane currently sits at 27-4 as a pro with 15 knockouts and one submission win. He is a complete buzzsaw to deal with on the feet, and his opponents have had a hell of a time keeping him on the mat, if they can even get him there. In addition, 11 of his wins were by decision, so he can easily go the distance, and he has never been finished.
The truth is that Jesus Pinedo has gotten more than he can handle in this match-up. The Peruvian was on a four-fight winning streak, all by finish, before arriving in the PFL, but all of those fights were in South America against mostly regional talent. In his promotional debut at PFL 1 a couple months ago, he dropped a closely contested split decision against Gabriel Alves Braga, leaving him with zero points thus far.
I don’t see this one making it the distance. There are levels to this game, and Loughnane is light years ahead of Pinedo in experience and skill. I have the Englishman finishing this one by TKO before the final bell.
Movlid Khaybulaev puts his undefeated record on the line in the co-main event; does he keep his winning streak going by beating Tyler Diamond
Much is to be said about Movlid Khaybulaev. The Dagestani is a pain to deal with, because, like many of his countrymen, he will just take his opponents to the mat and make their lives hell. He has already burned through wrestlers and submission experts in Lance Palmer, Damon Jackson, and Chris Wade, but he has also taken on some great strikers, such as the aforementioned Loughnane. After an injury kept him out of the 2022 season, he returned in 2023 with a unanimous decision over Ryoji Kudo. His next opponent, Tyler Diamond, also has spent some time out of competition.
Diamond had a chance at notoriety when he appeared on Season 27 of The Ultimate Fighter reality show. However, after winning his first fight on the show, he lost his second to Jay Cucciniello, and when the UFC gave him a second chance on the TUF 27 Finale, he lost again to Bryce Mitchell. After that, he cruised the regional scene for a few fights before taking time off during the COVID-19 pandemic and joining the 2021 PFL season. In 2021, he won his first fight, lost his second to Loughnane, and hadn’t fought since. He has now resurfaced in a fight with one of the top featherweights on the roster, which is a bit of trial by fire.
It’s hard to have a lot of faith in Diamond in this one. To come from a two-year layoff into a battle against a guy like Khaybulaev is not an easy task. Even with a wrestling history and Team Alpha Male training, it is hard to come in cold against a Dagestani wrecking machine. I think the American will come in fast and try to show a ton of heart, but I believe Khaybulaev will just be too much with him. IF this one does make it the distance, it will be a clear-cut victory for Khaybulaev.
Top prospect Josh Silveira stormed into the 2023 season with a first-round submission victory; can he live up to the reputation of his famous name and score another victory?
The PFL scored big with Josh Silveira. In fact, the fact that he even had to come through the PFL Challenger Series just shows how many people have been sleeping on this guy. Typically, a guy who runs through all of his opponents in the Legacy Fighting Alliance, maintaining an overall undefeated record along the way, will either get an offer to the Contender Series or get a short-notice call to the UFC. This has been the status of affairs between those to organizations since the inception of LFA. Not to mention, Silveira is the son of Conan Silveira, the head coach of American Top Team, who most notable went to war with Kazushi Sakuraba twice in one night at UFC 15.5.
Well, for whatever reason that Silveira had to come through a feeder tunnel to make it to a major promotion, he is here, and he has put any doubts aside. He currently sits at 10-1 as a pro, and his sole loss was to Omari Akhmedov in the 2022 PFL playoffs, and he tapped out Sam Kei only halfway through Round 1 in their 2023 season opener. He eill next be facing 9-4 Brazilian Delan Monte, who went 1-2 in the 2022 PFL season and lost his first bout of 2023 to Ty Flores.
Monte is a grappling-heavy fighter, but Silveira comes from not only a BJJ background, but is also a well-rounded mixed martial artist, who had taken time away from training in Florida to workout in Arizona as well. He has always broadened his horizons, and he has a very high fight IQ. While Monte could present some dangerous situations, I have Silveira winning this one by unanimous decision to stay undefeated in 2023, as he moves toward the playoffs.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
I only see one fight that is even close on this card, and that is Taylor Johnson vs. Andrew Sanchez. Sanchez won The Ultimate Fighter 23, and he appeared to be the next hot thing in the middleweight division. He is one of those cases of a guy who looked great until he didn’t, eventually washing out in 2021. He picked up a win under the Eagle FC banner a year ago, and this will be his PFL debut.
Johnson is a guy who came out of the LFA undefeated and looking like the next best thing as well. Then, he got finished on the Contender Series, had a couple wins and a couple losses inside of Bellator, and came through the PFL Challenger Series with back-to-back wins. Still only 32 years old, he could be headed towards his prime, and a win over Sanchez would be a step in the right direction.
One the other hand, the 2023 PFL season is a chance for Sanchez to get back to his winning ways. There is a hunger he’s had since being at the top of the game and the falling down the ladder, and a win over Johnson could get him in the hunt for a million bucks.
Either way, both of these guys are badly needing a win, and that usually makes for a great fight.
Main Card (ESPN, 10 p.m. ET)
FW: Brendan Loughnane vs. Jesus Pinedo
FW: Movlid Khaybulaev vs. Tyler Diamond
LHW: Marthin Hamlet vs. Sam Kei
FW: Bubba Jenkins vs. Sung Bin Jo
LHW: Josh Silveira vs. Delan Monte
Preliminary Card (ESPN+, 6 p.m. ET)
WW: Marlon Moraes vs. Gabriel Alves Braga
LHW: Ty Flores vs. Dan Spohn
FW: Chris Wade vs. Ryoji Kudo
LHW: Impa Kasanganay vs. Tim Caron
LHW: Taylor Johnson vs. Andrew Sanchez
Women’s FW: Abby Montes vs. Brandy Hester
FW: Alexei Pergande vs. Akeem Bashir
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