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2021 PFL Featherweight Semifinal #1: Chris Wade vs. Bubba Jenkins Breakdown

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The 2021 PFL title fights for the Oct. 27 championship card are almost all set, but not before some unfinished business gets resolved this Friday night in Hollywood, FL, and the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in PFL 9.

It’ll be a 10-fight card featuring semifinal fights in the featherweight and light heavyweight ranks and will be highlighted by both semifinals at 145 lbs.

In your PFL 9 co-main event of the evening this Friday night on ESPN2, No. 2 seed Chris Wade (18-6 MMA, 2-0 PFL 2021) will battle No. 3 seed Bubba Jenkins (16-4 MMA, 2-0 PFL 2021), with the winner advancing to championship night the week of Halloween.

As with all PFL semifinals, this featherweight confrontation will be a maximum of three rounds at five minutes per round.

2021 PFL Featherweight Semifinal #1 Fighter Comparison

Heading into the first semifinal at featherweight this weekend, Chris Wade is the taller man, standing 5-foot-10, with Bubba Jenkins standing 5-foot-8.

Additionally, Jenkins owns a two-inch reach advantage (72 inches to 70 inches) over Wade, who counters with a one-inch leg reach advantage (41 inches to 40 inches) over Jenkins going into this bout on Friday.

Wade Values the PFL Title Over a Million-Dollar Payday

Wade enters these 2021 PFL Playoffs having posted a record of 4-1 in his last five MMA appearances, including an ongoing two-fight winning streak. This was extended most recently with a second-round knockout (head kick and punches) over Arman Ospanov during PFL 4 back in June.

For Wade, the $1 million paydays that await all six champions this October is secondary, something he said to Newsday in a recent interview:

“I’ve purposely not asked,” Wade said. “I say that because I know the million dollars is the title. I’m so fixated because I don’t care what the other things are.”

Wade has had to swallow the bitter pill of defeat in the PFL postseason before – with both of his playoff losses coming in this very round, a key plot heading into this fight.

During the 2018 postseason, he was bounced into the semifinals via a split decision against Natan Schulte. He followed it up the next season with an elimination in the semifinals via unanimous decision versus Loik Radzhabov – with both of these semifinal defeats coming after winning both of his regular-season fights.

One key question that Wade will answer through this fight is “How can he handle the postseason pressure and can he finally get over the hump this time around?”

Can Jenkins Spoil the Party?

In the other corner, Jenkins sports a perfect 5-0 record heading into the postseason, besting Bobby Moffett via unanimous decision during PFL 4 back in June, staking claim to the No. 3 seed in the bracket at 145lbs in the process. This isn’t the first time that he’s been in championship contention in MMA, either.

Jenkins enters these playoffs looking to add another belt to his collection on his mantlepiece at his home, as he was the former two-time Brave Combat Federation featherweight champion before joining the PFL. If he is to taste the nectar of championship glory again, he first needs to pull off the upset against Wade this Friday evening.

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Stylistically, this first PFL featherweight semifinal seems to be a toss-up. Although both Wade and Jenkins have wrestling backgrounds, Wade has a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Look Out for Wade’s Ground and Kicking Game

Wade’s key prowess in this fight is going to be his ability to get the fight on the ground. Early on in his most recent appearance, he attempted a kimura submission against Ospanov before the latter got out of it, but it was in the second round that Wade turned the tide.

Upon absorbing a flurry of kicks to the body by Ospanov, Wade stunned him with a kick of his own and dropped him with a slew of right-handed punches. If the submission isn’t available here on Friday night, look for Wade to try and score with some right hands, potentially leading to an early night at the office for Wade.

Jenkins’ One-Punch Power Could Tell the Story

Jenkins has been known to finish his opponent by knockout, as was evidenced in his ACB bout in 2017 versus Diego Marlon. That night, he withstood a submission attempt from Marlon during the first round of this catchweight affair but stormed back in round two to take the top position and establish control of the fight, opening Marlon up with hammer fists and elbows in the process.

Round three saw Jenkins dump Marlon and immediately take the top position from the back mount, just teeing off with relentless ground and pound shots from there until Herb Dean called off the fight.

If Jenkins takes Wade down on Friday night and establishes top position, look for him to rain down on him with ground and pound shots – it could be over in a hurry.

Final Thoughts

This match is going to be predicated exclusively on which of the two fighters’ wrestling prowess is more effective. If you wait until this co-main event to tip your pizza delivery boy, you’re going to be sorry that you missed it.

Prediction: Bubba Jenkins by Unanimous Decision.


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Featured Image Credits to PFL

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