The month of April is winding down, with only two MMA shows left before the calendar turns to its fifth month.
Thursday night, while the first round of this year’s NFL Draft takes place in Las Vegas, MMA’s league, the PFL, will hold its second card of this regular season, PFL 2.
PFL 2 (coverage begins with part one at 6 pm ET/ 3 pm PT on ESPN+, with part two following at 9 pm ET/ 6 pm PT on ESPN2) will be the first chance for heavyweights and featherweights to accumulate points in the standings toward becoming the four qualifiers in those weight classes for this summer’s playoffs.
Heavyweight Showdown in PFL 2 Main Event Thursday Night
All told, it’ll be a 10-fight card (barring any cancellations between now and Thursday night), highlighted by a confrontation at 265 lbs. in the PFL 2 main event of the evening.
Your headliner will see Bruno Cappelozza (14-5 MMA, 0-0 PFL 2022), last season’s PFL Heavyweight Champion, begin his defense of the strap against Stuart Austin (15-7, 0-0 PFL 2022) in the latter’s PFL tournament debut.
As with all bouts in the PFL regular season, the PFL 2 main event will be an advertised maximum of three rounds at five minutes per round to close the show from ESports Stadium in Arlington, TX.
PFL 2 Main Event Fighter Comparison
Heading into the PFL 2 main event on Thursday evening in Arlington, Stuart Austin stands as the taller man at 6-foot-3, while Cappelozza counters with a 6-foot-2 frame.
Cappelozza gains some separation in the reach category, owning a two-inch advantage (79 inches to 77 inches) over Austin, with the men level in leg reach (43 inches apiece.)
Bruno Cappelozza Seeks To Begin Defense of Heavyweight Championship with Win in PFL 2 Main Event
Bruno Cappelozza enters the PFL 2 main event this Thursday evening having posted a record of 4-1 in his last five fights, most recently scoring a unanimous decision after five rounds to capture the 2021 PFL Heavyweight Championship versus Ante Delija during PFL 10: Championships last Oct. 27, but this title victory was bittersweet.
After defeating Delija for the heavyweight championship, Cappelozza had been informed that his father had passed away after suffering a heart attack three days before the show, and the champion had not been told the news until after the fight ended.
In an Instagram post the day after PFL 10: Championships last fall, Cappelozza eulogized his late father this way:
“The happiest and saddest day of my life. I didn’t know I had lost my biggest love and best friend of my life. Things only God can explain. I love you beyond my life. Thank you for teaching me to be the human being I am today. The belt is yours, old man. I love you so much. Hope you have a good journey with God, we’ll meet soon. Love you.”
Bruno Cappelozza dedicated last year’s heavyweight championship to his dad, and now he returns to begin the defense to fight in his honor.
UK Stalwart Stuart Austin Makes Second Promotional Appearance in PFL 2 Main Event
In the other corner, Stuart Austin has gone 3-2 in his last five fights and most recently lost by way of first-round knockout (overhand right punch) in a showcase bout during last year’s PFL 8 on Aug. 19, his first promotional appearance, against Renan Ferreira.
Total time of the fight: 32 seconds, making the appearance in PFL 8 his shortest fight to-date as a professional.
One aspect of the fight game that’s been plaguing the former stalwart of the local circuit in the United Kingdom is his inconsistency when it comes to favorable results, as he’s posted a .500 record in his last 14 appearances since leaving Bellator MMA in 2014.
Now at age 33, Austin faces the twilight of his career and potentially one last chance to succeed in major MMA.
Can he regain his former glory on Thursday night in the PFL 2 main event?
Tune in and find out.
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
Stylistically, the PFL 2 main event on Thursday night looks to favor Stuart Austin, a decorated black belt in judo, compared to Bruno Cappelozza’s Muay-Thai background, but both of these men can finish this fight inside the distance if need be.
This is the same kind of stylistic matchup that Cappelozza faced in both of his fights against Ante Delija last season in the PFL.
Watch Out For Cappelozza’s Hands
In looking at the film of his first fight against Ante Delija from last year’s heavyweight competition, Bruno Cappelozza can throw the hands to get the win.
Delija fired the initial salvos with a two-punch combination, later peppering Cappelozza with a right leg kick to his head.
From there, Bruno Cappelozza bought some time and moved in on Delija by mixing up his attack and throwing some feints before connecting on a right hook to the temple and a left-handed punch to Delija’s chin, starting a barrage of relentless punches to Delija’s head.
With Delija now badly wobbled and the damage clearly done, the referee had no choice but to call off the fight inside the first round’s first minute.
The final statistics from that knockout show that Bruno Cappelozza connected on all eight of his punches and only misfired on his lone kick, so if his punches are square and true on Thursday night, he could be racking up six points in the standings in the PFL 2 main event.
Stuart Austin Can Take PFL 2 Main Event to the Ground
In the other corner, Stuart Austin has been known to finish the fight on the cage mat, as was the case during his appearance in BAMMA 21 against Tom Aspinall.
During the second round of a scheduled three, Austin immediately scored a single-leg takedown and took the top position, with Aspinall attempting a triangle choke before he abandoned it.
From there, Austin scored some elbow strikes in a brief burst of ground and pound before Aspinall tried to submit him again, this time by armbar, before Austin fought it off.
Austin was able to wear Aspinall down by using his hips to secure pressure on the top mount, with Austin briefly getting up before attempting to pounce on him again, but Aspinall managed to defend that takedown before unloading on him with nasty ground and pound, almost scoring the knockout, until Austin applied torque on a heel hook, forcing Aspinall to tap out.
If Stuart Austin can take Bruno Cappelozza to the mat, it could be all the opening he needs to win the PFL 2 main event.
There’s one constant of heavyweight fights that might ring true on Thursday night in the PFL 2 main event:
“Don’t blink. You might miss the end.”
Take that lasagna into the living room with you before the fight starts, as there might not be a chance to get that plate in-between rounds.
Prediction: Bruno Cappelozza by First-Round TKO.
Featured Image Credits to Embed from Getty Images