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PFL Challenger Series 2 Main Event: Leve vs. Tsend-Ayush

After a light weekend in the sport to close out January, MMA returns to a fuller schedule to kick off the second month of the new year. With no meaningful NFL this weekend, sports fans will turn their attention to combat sports (and perhaps the NHL All-Star Game on Saturday afternoon) to get their fill of competitive violence.)

The MMA weekend begins on Friday night as the road to the 2023 PFL season continues. Universal Orlando plays host to the second installment of the 2023 PFL Challenger Series, PFL Challenger Series 2.

A week ago, Friday, the welterweights took the spotlight in PFL Challenger Series 1, with Thad Jean (5-0 MMA) securing the guaranteed contract for this year’s 170-lb. tournament, to begin later on in the spring. Now, women’s featherweights get their chance to impress in week two of the Challenger Series.

Undefeated Combatants Meet in PFL Challenger Series 2 Main Event

This week’s four-fight card (Friday, 9 pm ET/ 6 pm PT, Fubo Sports Network and YouTube) is topped off with a contest between two undefeated gladiators, both of whom are early on in their MMA careers. Amanda Leve (1-0 MMA) seeks to lock in a PFL deal in just her second professional bout when she takes on Naranjargal Tsend-Ayush (2-0 MMA).

All Challenger Series bouts are treated like regular season and semifinal bouts, so the PFL Challenger Series 2 main event will be a maximum of three rounds at five minutes per round to close the show.

PFL Challenger Series 2 Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds

Heading into Friday’s PFL Challenger Series 2 main event of the evening, Amanda Leve stands as the taller contestant at 5-foot-8, compared to the 5-foot-7 frame of Naranjargal Tsend-Ayush. Leve owns a 68-inch reach and a 40-inch leg reach, with no such information for Tsend-Ayush.

As per the oddsmakers, Amanda Leve is installed as a -220 favorite, with Naranjargal Tsend-Ayush as a +180 underdog. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening this weekend, please wager responsibly.

Amanda Leve Hopes PFL Experience Yields to Contract After PFL Challenger Series 2 Main Event

Amanda Leve enters the PFL Challenger Series 2 main event having yet to lose thus far in her MMA career. Counting her lone amateur appearance, she’s won four fights in succession dating back to September of 2017.

Last time out, she scored a first-round submission (rear-naked choke) in a 2021 PFL showcase fight against Miranda Barber. While the victory didn’t net her a PFL contract two years ago, she’s back this Friday for a second chance to impress the viewers at home and the celebrity judges, as they have the final say.

During a recent interview with Jason Cruz, Leve mentioned that she had a long layoff in-between MMA fights due to a broken fibula and subsequent recovery in 2022 against Kendall Reusing in a grappling bout.

“It was nothing she did,” Leve began. “It was actually more of, like, a weird fluke thing. My foot was in a spot that you, in jiu-jitsu, would have your foot in, in like a thousand different scenarios. She just pressured in a little bit and my leg just snapped. It was the weirdest thing. My foot was on her torso and when she pressured in, it just sounded like a two-by-four snapping. It was crazy.”

Leve has been on the sidelines for a little more than 10 months, but her layoff will soon end with the PFL Challenger Series 1 main event. Can she get another victory and a PFL deal? Tune in and find out.

Tsend-Ayush Looks To Build Off Submission Win

In the other corner, Naranjargal Tsend-Ayush, who just turned 31 years of age late last week, has yet to lose thus far in her MMA career, going 2-0. Back in October of last year, she scored a first-round submission (scarf-hold armbar) versus Cheyanne Bowers (0-1 MMA) in the LFA in a bantamweight contest.

The victory for Tsend-Ayush snapped a five-fight winning streak dating back to Bowers’ amateur MMA career. However, it’s her athletic past that might cause recognition of the name Naranjargal Tsend-Ayush.

Before turning to MMA, Tsend-Ayush competed as an Olympian judoka for her native Mongolia. She qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics, but failed to qualify for the medal round, being defeated in an opening-round match against Georgian Esther Stam. Despite that, she bounced back pretty well, having won three national championships in judo in her homeland between 2017 and 2020.

Now that she’s focusing on MMA full-time, can this former Olympian win a PFL contract this Friday?

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Stylistically, the PFL Challenger Series 2 main event looks to favor Amanda Leve, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, compared to Naranjargal Tsend-Ayush’s background as a judoka. Thus, it stands to reason that this main event could turn into a grappling match in a hurry.

Watch For Amanda Leve’s Rear-Naked Chokes

During her one and only professional MMA fight, Amanda Leve started by landing some strikes against Miranda Barber, including an inside leg kick. Barber eventually proved to be the more dominant striker of the two, as she landed spinning back kicks and was light on her feet to keep Leve honest.

An overhand right punch dropped Leve, forcing her to grapple with Barber in the clinch against the cage fence, eventually taking her down with a single-leg attack. From there, Leve took back mount and was able to apply the torque around Barber’s neck, locking in the rear-naked choke.

All it will take for Amanda Leve to win the PFL Challenger Series 1 main event is as little as one takedown. Her submission game will do the rest.

Naranjargal Tsend-Ayush Can Punch Her Way to Victory

In the other corner, watch for Naranjargal Tsend-Ayush to land punches in bunches on Friday during the PFL Challenger Series 1 main event. During her first MMA appearance against Tsogzolmaa Dorjsuren, both fighters came out throwing punches, but Tsend-Ayush was the stronger fighter, landing a vicious flurry of ground-and-pound shots.

Even though Dorjsuren got back up, it was to no avail. As soon as she returned to her feet, Tsend-Ayush put her in the clinch, where the onslaught just continued, peppering Dorjsuren with leg kicks and some knees in the clinch.

A two-punch combo by Tsend-Ayush put Dorjsuren down to stay. Even though she landed some ground and pound to the back of her opponent’s head, enough damage had already been done.

If she throws punches in bunches, Naranjargal Tsend-Ayush will walk away victorious on Friday.

Final Thoughts

The PFL Challenger Series 2 main event looks to be an interesting fight. You’ve got two competitors at the start of their careers, and each of them is possibly one win away from a chance at $1 million later this year. Don’t miss it.

Prediction: Amanda Leve by Unanimous Decision.

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