The professional fighters league (PFL) returns on Thursday with PFL 4 producing 11 fights on the event. With four fights on the main card, we’re going to take a look at what the PFL 4 prelims have to offer, with seven intriguing fights in store to decide the fates of the lightweights and featherweights.
PFL 4 Prelims Preview
Clay Collard (19-8) vs Joilton Lutterbach (34-9)
Clay Collard‘s coming off the biggest win of his MMA career in the first part of the regular season, he outclassed Anthony Pettis to win via unanimous decision. Collard was unlucky to not grab a finish by knocking Pettis down in the second round, he tried everything in his power to end it, but the experience of Pettis prevented that.
Joilton Lutterbach looks to bounce back from his first defeat in the regular season against Raush Manfio. After a back and forth bout, Manfio’s successful striking edged him the result via split decision.
Collard displayed his boxing skills against Pettis, with the American competing in Boxing as well as MMA. He holds a record of nine wins, four losses, and three draws. He fought recently in February 2021 losing on a decision.
Lutterbach is a versatile mixed martial artist, with 12 TKO/KOs and 12 submissions in his 34 victories. He has an incredible desire to fight, and it shows with 21 wins and only three losses since 2017. Without a doubt, these are the two most experienced fighters and competitors on the PFL 4 prelims.
Natan Schulte (20-4-1) vs Raush Manfio (12-3)
2018 & 19 PFL Lightweight Champion Natan Schulte is in desperate need of a bounce-back victory if he wants to become the champion for three consecutive years in the promotion.
It was a striking showdown between Schulte and Marcin Held at PFL 1, with the pair laying shots on each other from the start. For two grappling specialists, they chose to stay on their feet. In a contest hard to split, Held came away with the victory. He handed Schulte his first defeat since 2017 before he joined PFL.
Manfio has been given the opportunity of a lifetime for a second time running, as he steps in to replace the injured Mikhail Odintsov. Manfio has stepped in to replace Olivier Aubin-Mercier at PFL 1 when Manfio beat Lutterbach.
Extraordinarily, Manfio is the training partner and best friend of fellow Brazilian Schulte. The pair will have to leave friendships outside the cage as they look to progress through to the semi-finals. Schulte will need a win if he wants to progress through to the semi-final stage.
These two are going to potentially mix it up and surprise each other, with the pair knowing the ins and outs of each other’s style. It’s a fight to be wary about on the PFL 4 prelims, with both fighters probably more nervous than they’ve ever been before, as they face each other as enemies, not friends.
Lance Palmer (22-4) vs Jesse Stirn (11-4)
Jesse Stirn has impressed in his local promotion Shogun fights becoming a champion there before finding his way over to Cage Fury Fighting Championships and eventually the call to PFL to step in as an alternate.
With Lazar Stojadinovic dropping out of the bout due to injury, Stirn was called upon, and he will relish the opportunity to showcase his skills in one of the biggest fights of his career.
Both men love to grapple with 13 submissions between the pair. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re both going to look towards the ground game. They can both stand up and fight and will be looking to display those skills on the PFL 4 prelims.
Marcin Held (27-7) vs Olivier Aubin- Mercier (11-5)
Two former UFC fighters Held and Aubin-Mercier face off for the first time on the PFL 4 prelims, with their paths never crossing in the time they spent in the UFC. Held joined the UFC in November 2016, losing his first three fights and only winning on his last occasion against Nasrat Haqparast.
Aubin-Mercier joined the UFC in April 2014, losing his promotional debut. He was quite successful in the promotion compared to Held, winning his next seven of eight bouts. That was until he lost to Alexander Hernandez, then his bad streak continued losing against Gilbert Burns and finally Arman Tsarukyan, which was the last fight on his UFC contract in 2019.
These two submission artists could play to each other’s strengths by going to the ground, with Held holding a fantastic 14 submissions on his record and Aubin-Mercier has eight in his 11 victories.
As stated before, Held put in an impressive display over former champion Schulte at PFL 1. For Aubin-Mercier, he makes his debut after withdrawing from his promotional debut against Lutterbach due to injury.
Akhmed Aliev (20-6) vs Loik Radzhabov (13-3-1)
Russian knockout artist Akhmed Aliev will be looking to better his last performance in the previous PFL season after his shot at glory was ended in the semi-final of the 2019 season. He was submitted by Schulte in the second round via rear-naked choke, who of course went on to win the season.
Loik Radzhabov came one step further in the 2018 season by reaching the finale against Schulte. Radzhabov made it the distance, but the result didn’t go his way. It was more despair for the Tajikistani, in a close contest, he lost out via split decision to Alex Martinez in the first part of the regular season. This made it two defeats in a row for Radzhabov.
Both fighters can stand up and fight, with 11 TKO’KOs on Alievs record, it’s clear to see his plans for the fight. Radzhabov is a versatile martial artist, with six TKO/KO victories and four submissions on his record.
Movlid Khaybulaev (16-0-1) vs Sheymon Moraes (11-5)
Movlid Khaybulaev is an extremely tough guy to handle and he has the nickname ‘killer’ for a reason. The Russian has defeated fighters in Fight Nights Global, Herbert Burns in ONE, and several others across the globe.
Sheymon Moraes is on the most torrid run of his career, losing his previous three fights. He beat the likes of Matt Sayles and Julio Arce, before losing to Sodiq Yusuff and Andre Fili, to then be released from the UFC and eventually join PFL.
Khaybulaev holds no defeats on his record, but that’s down to Daniel Pineda failing a drugs test in the 2019 season and the bout was turned to a no-contest after the fight. He does remain undefeated now though, and he showed his hunger for victory at PFL 1, with a classy win over Stojadinovic.
Moraes had the worst possible start in PFL, where he only just made it past the two-minute mark. Brendan Loughnane put on a show finishing him inside the first round to make a statement in the featherweight division.
Chris Wade (18-6) vs Arman Ospanov (11-3)
Arman Ospanov makes his promotional debut, with Dizy now withdrawn from the competition, a place in the featherweight division was up for grabs.
Wade competed in the UFC from 2014 up until the first PFL season in 2018. The American came away with four victories in his first four bouts in the UFC, before losing to Rustam Khabilov and Islam Makhachev.
ACA has been the most recent promotion for Ospanov, with him finishing his most recent opponent Rasul Mirzaev inside the first round. It’s been 16 months since Ospanov has last competed though. In the early stages of his career, he fought several bouts in his home country of Kazakhstan.
With plenty of exciting fights coming up on the PFL 4 prelims, which bout are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below.
Featured Image Credits to PFL