PFL

Some of the best from Professional Fighters League (PFL) and Bellator MMA are set to go collide against one another later TODAY (Sat., Feb. 24, 2024) inside Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in what will be a historic event. Streaming live on ESPN+ PPV, as well as DAZN PPV, the event will be headlined by a Heavyweight title fight between PFL champion, Renan Ferreira, and Bellator titleholder, Ryan Bader. In the co-main event, PFL Light Heavyweight champion, Impa Kasanganay, drops to Middleweight to battle Bellator’s 185-pound champion, Johnny Eblen.

What’s Hot:


PFL

If you are going to do a promotion vs. promotion, champion vs. champion event, you can never go wrong with having the big men headline it. Renan Ferreira won the 265-pound tournament in November, and now he is trying to cement his place among the great big men in the sport by taking out Bellator’s champ, Ryan Bader. Of his 12 wins, Ferreira has won 10 of them by knockout, including seven of them in the very first round. In short, “Problema” is just that, a problem on the feet for anyone standing across from him.

Bader isn’t afraid to strike, but it would behoove him to rely on his wrestling because as Denis Goltsov showed during his title fight against Ferreira, he can be taken down and kept there. Sure, Bader isn’t shy from getting busy in the striking department, but let’s be real, who wants to strike with a man that stands 6’8’’ and hits like a Mack Truck? The winner of this fight will not only earn a shiny new belt for the mantle, as well as bragging rights, but they will also be the one to welcome Francis Ngannou to the Smart Cage later this year.

And you know what that means: Red Panty Night.

What’s Not:


PFL

I mean, other than the unfortunate cancellation of a couple of title fights, there isn’t much one can complain about when it comes to this event. It has intriguing matchups from top to bottom that will satisfy anyone’s hunger for hand-to-hand combat action.

Original Card vs. Actual Card:

MMA: JUN 14 Bellator 297
Photo by Amy Kaplan/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The event was set to feature four title fights. but PFL’s Featherweight champion, Jesus Pinedo, bowed out of his title fight against Patricio Pitbull. As a result, Gabriel Braga was pulled from his scheduled fight against Aaron Pico to face Pitbull. However, Braga was pulled from the fight prior to weigh ins for no unspecified reason, leaving Pitbull without an opponent, yet again. As for Pico, he will get a rematch against Henry Corrales on the undercard.

Injuries:

2023 PFL Championships
Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Aside from Pinedo’s injury, Magomed Magomedkerimov was forced out of his scheduled Welterweight championship bout against Jason Jackson due to an unspecified health setback. Stepping in to fill the void is Ray Cooper III.

New Blood & Prelims


PFL

We’re going to combine both of these columns because all but one of the fights on the undercard will feature newcomers. The lone fight that will include longtime veterans is a rematch between Aaron Pico and Henry Corrales, who agreed to step in on short notice after Gabriel Braga was pulled from the fight. Pico and Corrales have fought once before, resulting in a first-round knockout win for Corrales, snapping Pico’s four fight win streak. It’s a fight that I’m sure Pico has been looking forward to getting again, and now he has the chance to make things right for himself. Corrales is coming off a razor-thin split decision loss to Kai Kamaka III. As for his opponent, he is currently riding a two-fight win streak and is coming off a first-round TKO win over Pedro Carvalho.

Biaggio Ali Walsh has competed for PFL as an amateur, but he will be making his official pro debut today when he battles Emmanuel Palacio. The grandson of Muhammad Ali, Walsh went 6-1 as an amateur with six knockouts, four in the very first round. As for Palacio, he is 1-0, winning his own pro debut against Pedro Barrios in Dec. 2023. Walsh is a highly-touted prospect given his family lineage, so if he can make a splash with another knockout win he will make people take notice instantly.

Malik Basahel and Vinicius Pereira will square off in a battle of newcomers. Pereira went 3-0 as an amateur, winning all of his fights via first-round submission. As for Basahel, he went 9-1-1 as an amateur and comes in having won six in a row.

Edukondal Rao will make his PFL debut against Abdullah Al-Qahtani. After starting his pro career at 5-0, Rao suffered the first loss of his career in his last outing via unanimous decision at the hands of Gurtej Singh. As for Al-Qahtani, he is 2-0 under the PFL banner and owns an overall record of of 7-1. He hasn’t been overly active as a pro, only fighting eight times in six years.


PFL

Also, Kelsey De Santis will be making her PFL debut when she steps up to face off against current world boxing champion, Claressa Shields. The “GWOAT” currently holds the WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO, WBF, and The Ring middleweight titles and is undefeated at 14-0 as a boxer. As an MMA fighter, Shields is still young in her career, going 1-1, losing to Abigail Montes via split-decision in Oct. 2021. Almost 2.5 years later, Shields returns in search of her second win as a pro. De Santis, meanwhile, suffered two straight losses to start off her pro MMA career, but managed to pick up her first win in her last outing by defeating Kathleen Noy Nelson via first-round TKO. Defeating Shields would be a great way to make an impression on her new company.

Who Needs A Win Badly:


PFL

Both Yoel Romero and Thiago Santos have seen better days inside the cage. Romero is coming off a unanimous decision loss at the hands of Vadim Nemkov, dropping him to 2-5 in his last seven fights, 1-2 under the Bellator banner. Nearing 47 years of age, Romero needs a win to prevent the chatters of his age affecting his performance inside the cage from ramping up even more. As for Santos, his last win came in Oct. 2021, defeating Johnny Walker via unanimous decision inside the UFC Octagon. He left the promotion on a two-fight losing streak, and failed to kick off his PFL debut with a bang after losing to Rob Wilkinson. Fortunately for “Marreta,” that win was ruled a No Contest (NC) after Wilkinson tested positive for elevated testosterone.

Interest Level: 8.5/10


PFL

In the co-main event Impa Kasanganay drops down to Middleweight to face Johnny Eblen. Kasanganay has been on fire since joining PFL, going 5-0 and winning the Light Heavyweight title in Nov. 2023. As for Eblen, he has a 14-0 record, 10-0 in Bellator. He is coming off a knockout win over Fabian Edwards at Bellator 299, his fourth straight title defense. Eblen is a former NCAA Division 1 wrestler, so taking the fight to the ground seems like a no-brainer. Kasanganay would love to keep the fight standing, and, believe it or not, Eblen will be a very willing dance partner.

Jason Jackson is coming off a huge win over Yaroslav Amosov, knocking him out in the third round at Bellator 301. It was “Ass-Kicking Machine’s” seventh-straight win, and while he won’t get the chance to fight PFL’s champion and possibly win a new belt, he will get the opportunity to face a former champion in Ray Cooper III, who coincidentally enough has a win over the current 170-pound champion, Magomed Magomedkerimov. Cooper III has seen better days, though, since he is just 1-2 over his last three fights and is coming off a loss to Derek Brunson. He can bounce back in a huge way by taking out Bellator’s 170-pound title holder.


PFL

Bruno Cappelozza is no stranger to big fights. He did, after all, win the 2021 Heavyweight tournament by defeating Ante Delija via unanimous decision. That was the only fight he has won via decision because he knocked out 14 of 15 opponents. He will need that knockout power to be in full effect against Vadim Nemkov, who loves nothing more than to grind his opponents down over the course of a 15 or a 25-minute fight. Nemkov vacated his Light Heavyweight title in order to make a run at the 265-pound strap, so he will come in highly-motivated. He isn’t opposed to getting into a barn-burner, but his best bet is to stay close, dirty box and go for the takedowns. For Cappelozza, he will be looking for the home run shot any chance he gets.

Kicking things off on the main card is a Lightweight bout between 2023 Lightweight finalist, Clay Collard, and former Bellator Featherweight champion, A.J. McKee, who is undefeated at 3-0 since moving up to 155 pounds. McKee is as well-rounded as they come. He can stand with the best of them and he can submit them, too. He did, after all, win the 145-pound title by submitting Patricio Pitbull at Bellator 263. He has six wins via knockout, seven via submission and eight via decision, so if that’s not well-rounded I don’t know what is. As for Collard, he would love nothing more than to get back on track with a win over “Mercenary” after falling to Olivier Aubin-Mercier in the Lightweight final in Nov. 2023, which snapped his three-fight win streak. This truly is a historic event that will serve as a template for PFL’s future promotion vs. promotion events

Enjoy the fights!

Full ‘Seize the Throne’ Fight Card:

PFL Vs. Bellator Main Event:

265 lbs.: PFL Heavyweight champion Renan Ferreira vs. Bellator Heavyweight champion Ryan Bader

PFL Vs. Bellator Main Card (3 p.m. ET)

185 lbs.: PFL Light Heavyweight champion Impa Kasanganay vs. Bellator Middleweight champion Johnny Eblen
182 lbs.: Jason Jackson vs. Ray Cooper III (not Magomed Magomedkerimov)
145 lbs.: Bellator Featherweight champion Patricio Pitbull vs. Gabriel Braga CANCELED
265 lbs.: Bruno Cappelozza vs. Vadim Nemkov
205 lbs.: Thiago Santos vs. Yoel Romero
155 lbs.: Clay Collard vs. A.J. McKee

PFL Vs. Bellator ‘Prelims’ Undercard (12:30 p.m. ET)

145 lbs.: Aaron Pico vs. Henry Corrales
155 lbs.: Biaggio Ali Walsh vs. Emmanuel Palacio
155 lbs.: Claressa Shields vs. Kelsey DeSantis
145 lbs.: Abdullah Al-Qahtani vs. Edukondal Rao
125 lbs.: Malik Basahel vs. Vinicius Pereira


Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire ‘Seize the Throne’ fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ and DAZN “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. ET, before the pay-per-view (PPV) main card start time at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV and DAZN PPV.

Staff
Author: Staff

Please go to MMAMania.com to read full article.

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