The Professional Fighters League returns for their third event in 14 days, saving the most exciting and unpredictable till last. It’s time for the featherweights and light heavyweights to showcase their talents and see who’s hungry to become the PFL 2021 champion.
In the main event, we see the ruthless Brendan Loughnane face the ‘Killer’ Movlid Khaybulaev in the featherweight semifinals. Chris Wade and Bubba Jenkins head to war in the other semifinal as they try and move a step closer to that $1 million championship fight.
Meet the Featherweights
Loughnane has proved himself to be one of Britain’s most feared prospects on the MMA scene, with a fantastic seven-fight win-streak. The man fighting out of Manchester hasn’t been defeated in four years, with his previous defeat coming against veteran Pat Healy via split decision.
He was given the opportunity in the 2019 PFL playoffs to compete on the preliminary cards to display his skills. Loughnane showcased that, coming away with two victories in dominating performances over Matt Wagy and David Valente.
The explosive Englishman has been proving doubters wrong his whole career, and his first opponent in the 2021 season, Sheymon Moraes, didn’t make it past the three-minute mark. Loughnane came all guns blazing for that finish, with his lethal right hand, he secured it.
A stunning performance again over Tyler Diamond winning via majority decision saw Loughnane at the summit of the standings and progress through to the semi-finals at the first time of asking.
“As mad as it sounds, I’m not even looking at the money,” Loughnane told Sky Sports’ Ed Draper. “To be a world champion is my goal. These words show Loughnane’s mindset and mentality as a competitor. When $1 million is in the back of your mind, it’s clear to see how much he wants to become a champion.
Despite topping the division, Loughnane comes in as a betting underdog, something he doesn’t understand. “People are sleeping on me,” Loughnane told MMA Junkie Radio. “I am the big betting underdog yet again, so people are sleeping on me yet again. What do I have to do out there for the betting people to start putting me as a favorite?
So, the slight betting favorite Khaybulaev boasts an undefeated record in the ten years he’s been a professional. After competing in Fight Nights Global and an appearance in ONE Championship defeating UFC’s Herbert Burns, Khaybulaev was signed for the PFL 2019 season.
He entered the cage in style, producing the quickest knockout in PFL history over Damon Jackson. With only 10 seconds into their bout, a jumping knee from Khaybulaev caught Jackson perfectly in the face to knock him flat onto the canvas.
In his second bout for PFL, a majority draw against Andre Harrison was the first time Khaybulaev didn’t taste victory in his MMA career. It was good enough to see him through to the play-offs, but Daniel Pineda prevented him from going any further. Left hook to right hook from Pineda saw him finish Khaybulaev in 29 seconds.
Well, ‘I thought you said he was undefeated’… in fact, he still is. Due to Pineda failing a drug test, the bout turned into a no contest, and Khaybulaev got back his zero. The ‘Killer’ was out for redemption in the 2021 season, and he’s made serious statements in the regular season with decision victories over Lazar Stojadinovic and two-time PFL champion Lance Palmer.
Loughnane vs. Khaybulaev Fight Comparison
Loughnane vs. Khaybulaev has fight of the night written all over it, with one of the best matchups PFL 2021 has to offer. Both are powerful and direct strikers who love to knock people out for fun. Loughnane has 11 TKO/KO’s on his record, whilst Khaybulaev comes close behind with six.
Loughnane holds three inches in height and two inches in reach on Khaybulaev, which sees him have the physical edge. It could be the case of Khaybulaev using his grappling skills to try and outdo Loughnane on the ground. Loughnane has a reliable defensive ski, being difficult to take down, which we saw several times against Diamond.
Both fighters like to push their opponent against the cage and release their wrath, hammering shots till they find the finish. The key for these two is to stay calm and not be sloppy, or one of them will take advantage of the other’s mistake.
Featured Image Credits to: Embed from Getty Images