The 2023 PFL season comes to a close this week as six champions will be crowned with each one earning a million dollars. The men’s lightweight title will be the main event, as Olivier Aubin-Mercier looks to claim a second consecutive championship against Clay Collard. The co-main event is the heavyweight championship fight between Renan Ferreira and Denis Goltsov.
The first ever women’s featherweight championship will be decided, as last year’s surprise lightweight champion Larissa Pacheco squares off against Marina Mokhnatkina with gold on the line. Also competing will be two previous welterweight champions with Sadibou Sy vs. Magomed Magomedkerimov.
The first bout on the main card that has a title at stake will be the light heavyweight championship bout between Impa Kasanganay and Josh Silveira. The men’s featherweight crown will be decided on the prelims as Jesus Pinedo fights Gabriel Alves Braga.
Two bouts on the main card won’t have titles at stake, as former women’s lightweight queen Kayla Harrison takes on Aspen Ladd in a featherweight showdown, and former welterweight champion Ray Cooper III moves up to middleweight to welcome UFC veteran Derek Brunson to the PFL.
The early card airs live on ESPN+ starting at 5 p.m. ET, followed by the main card on ESPN+ pay-per-view at 8 p.m. ET.
Olivier Aubin-Mercier has steamrolled his way through the 2023 season; can he put a stamp on this year by finishing Clay Collard?
Yes. This will be another standout performance for Olivier Aubin-Mercier and he will earn his second straight PFL Championship. He has proved to any doubters that he is far and away the best lightweight in the PFL. He is going to make quick work of Clay Collard in this one.
From the onset of the fight, Collard is going to try and stay in boxing range while Aubin-Mercier looks to level change and get a takedown. Frankly, I don’t think Aubin-Mercier will have much of a struggle to get the fight to the mat and he will get to work quickly with punches from the guard of Collard, softening him up and allowing Aubin-Mercier to methodically pass into mount where he will start throwing down heavy blows. I don’t expect this one to get out of the first round before the referee is forced to step between the two combatants and call a halt to this fight.
Sadibou Sy and Magomed Magomedkerimov have both won the PFL championship previously; which man walks away with a second world title?
Sadibou Sy surprises me every time he fights. Just watching him it doesn’t look like he’s doing anything exceptional, he just somehow figures out a way to win. Somehow I still haven’t learned my lesson because I am picking against him again.
That is less because of Sy’s skills and more because I am a big believer in the talent of Magomed Magomedkerimov. His last loss came against Ray Cooper III in the finals of the 2021 season and even in that fight Magomedkerimov was winning the contest and had Cooper in trouble before he got caught with a monster overhand right. This one is going to end with a submission victory for Magomedkerimov, who will be the superior fighter in all aspects of the bout and once he gets Sy to the canvas he will force “The Swedish Denzel Washington” to give up his back and fall prey to a rear-naked choke victory,
Former UFC fighter Impa Kasanganay hasn’t lost since joining the PFL; can he earn a world title and defeat rising star Josh Silveira?
Impa Kasanganay is looking to steal a play out of Olivier Aubin-Mercier’s playbook and leave a less than stellar run in the UFC behind him to become a world champion in the PFL. Unfortunately, he has an immovable object in his way with Josh Silveira. The Brazilian comes from a great background, his father being former fighter and legendary coach Conan Silveira. He has a better frame for light heavyweight than Kasanganay, who previously fought at middleweight, and he is simply more talented. This one won’t go the distance and Silveira will dictate where the fight takes place from the opening bell. Whether he scores a knockout or a submission win, the prospect gets the biggest win of his career and claims the championship.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
With the pacing of the PFL, they could all be called sleeper picks because it will be hard for viewers not to fall asleep in between bouts. However, the two non-title fights on the main card are both fights to which fans should pay attention. Seeing Kayla Harrison back at featherweight for only the second time in her career against former UFC fighter Aspen Ladd is interesting because if Harrison looks good at 145 lbs. it opens up the possibility of her taking on Bellator champion Cris Cyborg. It is also going to be interesting to see how former UFC star Derek Brunson fares in his PFL debut against Ray Cooper III. Cooper III is moving up to middleweight for this showdown after struggling to make welterweight so if he can pick up a win over a proven foe like Brunson it could open up opportunities for him at a new weight class.
Main Card (ESPN+ pay-per-view, 8 p.m. ET)
LW Championship: Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Clay Collard
HW Championship: Renan Ferreira vs. Denis Goltsov
Women’s FW Championship: Larissa Pacheco vs. Marina Mokhnatkina
WW Championship: Sadibou Sy vs. Magomed Magomedkerimov
LHW Championship: Impa Kasanganay vs. Josh Silveira
Women’s FW: Kayla Harrison vs. Aspen Ladd
MW: Ray Cooper III vs. Derek Brunson
Preliminary Card (ESPN+, 5 p.m. ET)
FW Championship: Jesus Pinedo vs. Gabriel Alves Braga
Amateur LW: Biaggio Ali Walsh vs. Joel Galarza Lopez
FW: Bubba Jenkins vs. Chris Wade
BW: Khai Wu vs. Phil Caracappa
FW: Jesse Stirn vs. Josh Blyden
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