After seeing its 2020 season collapse because of COVID-19, Professional Fighters League (PFL) makes its triumphant return to the airwaves tonight (Fri., April 23, 2021) with the start of its Lightweight and Featherweight tournament.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE coverage of the PFL 1 main card below, which begins at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2. We’ll also provide quick results for the “Prelims” undercard on ESPN+, which will start streaming at 5:30 p.m. ET.
The featured attraction sees former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champion Anthony Pettis take on Octagon veteran turned-beloved boxer Clay Collard, while two-time tournament champion Natan Schulte looks to start the year off right against submission ace Marcin Held. Down at 145 pounds, unbeaten Movlid Khaybulaev faces late replacement Lazar Stojadinovic and Lance Palmer begins his own bid for a third tournament victory opposite Bellator vet Bubba Jenkins.
The rest of the field includes some familiar faces such as Brendan Loughnane, Sheymon Moraes and Chris Wade, as well as 2019 finalist Loik Radzhabov.
PFL 1 QUICK RESULTS:
Anthony Pettis vs. Clay Collard — Collard def. Pettis by unanimous decision (29-27 x2, 29-28) — HIGHLIGHTS!
Natan Schulte vs. Marcin Held — Held def. Schulte by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Movlid Khaybulaev vs. Lazar Stojadinovic — Khaybulaev def. Stojadinovic by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Lance Palmer vs. Bubba Jenkins — Jenkins def. Palmer by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Brendan Loughnane vs. Sheymon Moraes — Loughnane def. Moraes by KO (punches) at 2:55 of Round One
Joilton Lutterbach vs. Raush Manfio — Manfio def. Lutterbach by split decision (28-29, 29-28 x2)
Akhmet Aliev vs. Mikhail Odintsov — Aliev def. Odintsov by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Chris Wade vs. Anthony Dizy — Wade def. Dizy by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Jo Sung Bin vs. Tyler Diamond — Diamond def. Jo by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Loik Radzhabov vs. Alexander Martinez — Martinez def. Razhabov by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
PFL 1 ROUND-BY-ROUND COVERAGE:
155 lbs.: Anthony Pettis vs. Clay Collard
Round one: Collard bullying, sending out punches. Body kick from Pettis. Collard takes him to the fence, takes a left hand on the exit. Pettis tries a head kick, eats a high-low flurry. Heavy pressure from Collard. Big left by Collard, 2-1. One minute in. Body kick connects. Right hand downstairs. Pettis lands a leg kick, then another and a counter right. Collard lands a combo on the fence and they trade right hand. Pettis goes for a cartwheel kick and ends up on his back. Collard kicks his legs two minutes in. Nearly lands an Eric Prindle axe kick to the nards. Looking to land punches, ties up as Pettis stands. Two minutes to go.
Low kick from Pettis. Collard forces him back, lands punches after Pettis slips. More kicks to the leg, good left hand. Pettis pops back up. Collard’s walking through his counters so far. There’s a heavy counter right by Pettis with a minute to go. Right cross. Another counter right, good leg kick. Pettis doing better in this last minute. Collard goes for a back kick and back fist. 10-9 Collard.
Round two: Low kicks, right cross land for Pettis. Really targeting that lead leg. Collard tries a blitz. Another cracking leg kick by Pettis, eats a body shot. More low kicks. One minute in. Collard with some leg kicks. Combination lands for him on the fence. Back to the center. Pettis with a glancing flying knee, slips and avoids one in return. Collard with some good shots against the fence and he floors Pettis with a nasty right hand, barely stopping himself from following up with an illegal knee. Pettis threatens a leg, manages to stand. Heavy body shot visibly bothers Pettis. Collard continuing to bang away against the fence. Just mauling with two minutes to go.
More right hands from Collard. Jumping knee attempt, more right hands. One to the body, then to the head for another knockdown. Bombing away on the ground. Pettis stands, taken back down. Collard landing from turtle. One minute to go. Collard follows him down into guard and Pettis briefly considers a triangle. Collard stands and waves him up. Another body shot as Pettis sends out body kicks. 10-8 Collard.
Round three: Collard looking a little winded at this point. Combo from Pettis as Collard continues to advance. Pettis right hook. One minute in. 3-2. Another counter right and a head kick attempt. More kicks. Collard tries a spinning back fist to body kick. Colalrd catches a kick and puts Pettis on his back, kicking his legs a bit before blasting a rising PEttis with a right hand two minutes in. Good spinning back fist from Pettis. Collard back on the advance, tries a wheel kick and puts together combinations to the head and body. Counter right from Pettis. Two minutes to go.
Straight right by Collard, tries to spin again. They trade right hands. Suddenly, Pettis badly hurts Collard with a left high kick in combination, then catches him leaning with a flying knee. Collard pulls guard with a minute to go. He manages to scramble up, avoiding a back take and separating. Another clean head kick by Pettis and Collard tanks this one, kicking at his legs to end the fight. Nice. 10-9 Pettis.
Final result: Collard def. Pettis by unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Natan Schulte vs. Marcin Held
Round one: Trading right away. Solid right hand from Held. Schulte picking away at his legs, has to deal with a combo in return. More heavy low kicks by Schulte. Trading in the center. 1-2 from Held a minute in. Counter hook by Schulte. Nice clinch uppercut comes back at him. Held winning the boxing but taking a lot of shots to the lead leg. Body shot, knee by Held. Clean 1-2 splits the guard. More combinations two minutes in. Another cracking leg kick by Schulte, who takes him to the fence. Held reverses and changes levels with two minutes to go.
Schulte defends and reverses. Held tries a whizzer throw, exits with punches. Nice sprawl by Schulte with a minute to go. Held uppercuts, Schulte low kick in the clinch. Knees from both. 10-9 Held.
Round two: Again, good punches from Held early on. Schulte low kick, eats one in turn. Nice uppercut and jab by Held. Schulte with a check hook, eats an uppercut. Schulte continuing to press forward. One minute in. Continuing to exchange. Held with some sharp jabs and a swatting right. Schulte tanks some uppercuts and cuffs him with a right hand. Two minutes in. Knee from Held. Circling, landing jabs. Schulte doubles up the left hook. Brief clinch. Two minutes to go.
Held uppercut, Schulte overhand. Held looking like he’s feeling the pace but still going, lands a hard clinch uppercut and a well-timed takedown. Schulte scrambles right back to his feet and wades in with a cracking right hand. One minute to go. Schulte keeping him against the fence. Good knee by Schulte. 10-9 Held in a close one.
Round three: Schulte continues his march. Good right hands by Schulte, eats a glancing knee on the break. One minute in. Schulte tries a foot sweep. Trading body kicks. Schulte shrugs off a combo, cracks Held with a nice right. Two minutes in. Anotehr good right from Schulte on the exit, taunting know. Held trading with him but giving ground. Schulte body kick, Held right hand. Shift right hook by Schulte. 1-1-2 by Held. Schulte with another body kick, then a left downstairs. Held tries a takedown and gets rebuffed. Two minutes to go.
Another good right by Schulte. Held’s struggling with the pace. Good check hook lands for him though. Another good Schulte cross and he’s sitting down on them now. Held right hand, Schulte counter hook. One minute to go. Held lands an uppercut at range. Another good right by Schulte. Held’s right there with him. Lead hook connects for Schulte, then one in combination. Grueling fight. Schulte whiffs on a head kick. Held waves him on and they try one more slugfest. 10-9 Schulte. Damn good fight.
Final result: Held def. Schulte by unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Movlid Khaybulaev vs. Lazar Stojadinovic
Round one: Tentative start. One minute in. Quick level change puts Khaybulaev on top in half guard. Heavy shoulder pressure. Couple nice shots as Stojadinovic regains guard. Straight armbar attempt from the back, denied two minutes in. Stojadinovic tries deep half, nothing doing. Two minutes to go.
Khaybulaev tries to pin down an arm, settles for some short punches as Stojadinovic defends with a knee shield. One minute to go. Now Khaybulaev traps an arm and unloads a lengthy stream of left hands. Heavy ground-and-pound. He tries a late kimura. 10-9 Khaybulaev.
Round two: Khaybulaev takes him back down in the opening seconds, landing in half guard near the fence. Stojadinovic trying to get to his knees. One minute in. Khaybulaev staying patient, not throwing a lot. Two minutes in. Stojadinovic makes it back to his feet, dumped back down. Back to full guard. Two minutes to go.
Stojadinovic unable to do much off his back, Khaybulaev not electing to do much from the top. One minute to go. Continuing to grind against the fence. 10-9 Khaybulaev.
Round three: Another slow start to the round. Right hand from Khaybulaev. One minute in. Circling, not much else. Blast double puts Khaybulaev on top in half guard. Staying tight, landing short lefts. Two minutes to go.
Continuing to chip away. One minute to go. They have what appears to be a friendly chat. Some harder left hands until the bell. 10-9 Khaybulaev.
Final result: Khaybulaev def. Stojadinovic by unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Lance Palmer vs. Bubba Jenkins
Round one: Jenkins advancing early, prodding at range and looking to jab. Good counter left by Palmer a minute in. 1-1-2 falls short. Next left hand connects. Jengins tries a flying knee, follows with a left hand. Palmer with a low kick to straight left. Jenkins tries a head kick two minutes in. Mostly a sparring match so far. Jenkins answers a leg kick with a takedown against the fence. Palmer looking for the switch, can’t get it. Jenkins kneeing him against the fence with two minutes to go.
Jenkins continues to knee the thigh. Suplex attempt, dumps Palmer on his knees with a minute to go. Short punches. He gets both hooks in with 15 seconds to work, lands some hard rights before the bell. 10-9 Jenkins.
Round two: Jenkins opens with a nice left hand, can’t hit the takedown behind it. Next left falls short and he eats a leg kick in return. Another good Palmer leg kick a minute in. Jenkins with a glancing 1-2. Palmer leg kick, Jenkins jabs. Hard overhand left lands for Palmer, who has to fight off a body lock. Jenkins keeping him against the fence. Brief attempt to take the back, back to the knees to the thigh. Two minutes to go.
Palmer can’t get the switch, but lands a glancing knee on the break. Low kick connects. Jenkins taunts as Palmer circles away. He tries a spinning back kick with a minute to go. They trade rights, Palmer low kick. Jenkins continuing to advance and they trade head kick attempts. Another try at a spinning back kick. 10-9 Jenkins.
Round three: Palmer tries an early combo, lands a low leg kick. Jenkins goes orthodox, eats another leg kick. Palmer weirdly hesitant to initiate this fight. 3-2 attempts. Palmer looks for a Superman punch. Jenkins ties up, digs some knees to the body. Jenkins puts him on the fence again and gets rewarded with a groin shot for his trouble. Back to the grinding, successful takedown. Palmer working to his feet with the whizzer. Inside trip can’t get Palmer down, outside does but he can’t establish. Palmer looking to wrap up a front headlock from the sprawl. Deadlocked in the sprawl. Palmer wraps up a 10-finger guillotine with under a minute to go. Jenkins mugging for the camera, then explodes back to his feet. They trade body shots on the break. Jenkins looks for a wheel kick, eats a 1-2. Palmer backs him to the fence and Jenkins celebrates before the bell. 10-9 Jenkins.
Final result: Jenkins def. Palmer by unanimous decision
For more on PFL and its upcoming season, click here.