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PFL Challenger Series 3 Main Event: Marques vs. Hylton

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It’s been quite a week for the PFL. Ahead of last Friday night’s PFL Challenger Series 2, the promotion announced days and dates for half of its events to take place in the upcoming regular season. PFL 1 will be held on Saturday, April 1, followed by PFL 2 on Friday, April 7, and PFL 3 on Friday, April 14.

The April 1 date (no fooling here) for PFL 1 is noteworthy in that it’s the same day and date as the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship Final Four in Houston at NRG Stadium. With no competition from the UFC that Saturday night (the promotion never schedules an event opposite the Final Four), PFL 1 will be the only major MMA show happening that night.

Inside the cage last Friday night, Amanda Leve (2-0 MMA) secured a guaranteed PFL contract for the new season by virtue of her unanimous decision victory against Naranjargal Tsend-Ayush (2-1 MMA). It was the lone fight on last week’s card to factor in the judges’ scorecards. This Friday, the heavyweights get their turn in the spotlight.

UFC Alum Marques Battles Bellator Alum Hylton in PFL Challenger Series 3 Main Event Friday

As usual, four fights will be held at Universal Orlando on Friday (9 pm ET/ 6 pm PT, Fubo Sports Network and YouTube) with a celebrity panel of judges voting on which of this week’s eight competitors is one step closer to a $1 million (USD) payday at the end of the year. Fan voting will take place on Twitter during the card.

Highlighting the night is a battle between two competitors looking to get back into major MMA during the PFL Challenger Series 3 main event. UFC alumnus Danilo Marques (12-4 MMA), who went 2-2 in Dana White‘s promotion, will fight Ras Hylton (9-6 MMA), formerly of Bellator MMA. Hylton also sported a .500 record, going 1-1 in Scott Coker’s promotion.

All PFL Challenger Series fights are treated like regular season affairs, so the PFL Challenger Series 3 main event will be a maximum of three rounds at five minutes per round to close the night’s itinerary.

PFL Challenger Series 3 Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds

Heading into the main event of the evening on Friday night, both men stand level in height at 6-foot-6. Ras Hylton owns a 5 1/2-inch reach advantage (83 inches even to 77 1/2 inches) over Danilo Marques. No leg reach information was accessible at press time.

As of late Monday afternoon, the oddsmakers have Danilo Marques as the heaviest favorite on the card (-650), with Ras Hylton installed as a +475 underdog. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening this weekend, please wager responsibly.

Danilo Marques Looks to Use PFL Challenger Series 3 Main Event as a Springboard Back to Big Leagues

Danilo Marques enters the PFL Challenger Series 3 main event having gone 3-2 in his last five fights. Almost a year ago, he saw a two-fight losing streak snapped with a first-round submission (triangle choke) against Brock McKinney (0-1 MMA) during Gladiator Challenge: Backyard Brawl.

Formerly a middleweight and light heavyweight, Marques will be moving up to 265 lbs. for the first time on Friday night.

Ras Hylton wasn’t Marques’ original opponent for the PFL Challenger Series 3 main event. Initially, Marques was supposed to have fought Giacomo Lemos (8-0 MMA) in the latter’s second Challenger Series appearance, but Lemos withdrew from the show.

As previously mentioned, Danilo Marques went 2-2 in the UFC between Sept. 26, 2020, and Feb. 5, 2022, but he’s had long stretches of inactivity both before and after his reign in MMA’s top promotion. Before joining the UFC’s active roster in 2020, he had a stretch of nearly two years without a fight.

After being cut from the UFC, he took a fight in late February of last year but hasn’t fought in roughly 50 weeks. Three questions remain:

How much ring rust is there for him? Will he be able to acclimate to the heavyweight division? Can Marques get back in major MMA after a victory in the PFL Challenger Series 3 main event? Tune in and find out.

Hylton Rides Momentum of Three-Fight Winning Streak into PFL Challenger Series 3 Main Event

In the other corner, Ras Hylton enters the PFL Challenger Series 3 main event on Friday having gone 3-2 himself. He’s currently on a three-fight winning streak.

Most recently, he needed just 16 seconds to knock out Jordan Mitchell (10-17, 1 NC MMA) during the Nov. 12 NEF 50 in Portland, ME. The fight was noteworthy in that Mitchell created bulletin board material when he predicted that Hylton would not get beyond the first five minutes of action.

While the fight only lasted a few seconds, it was Hylton who ensured a quick fight. Quick fights have become the greatest of habits for Ras Hylton.

In his past two contests, out of a possible combined 30 minutes of fight time, Ras Hylton has finished his adversaries in a combined 29 seconds. Thus, it stands to reason that he could very well have another quick night at the office on Friday.

During an interview with Ryan Jarrell, Hylton revealed that he took the PFL Challenger Series 3 main event instead of a shot at championship gold.

“It all just kind of fell together last-minute,” Hylton said. “I was getting set to begin a long camp for a real big competitor in Brendan Battles (3-1 MMA) for a title fight down at Cage Titans, but then, right after this, I got the offer, and when someone says ‘Hey, PFL,’ you say ‘Thank you.'”

From time to time, when there’s been a heavyweight fight broken down on this site, you’ll see us say, “Don’t blink. This fight might not last very long.” Consider the advisory to be in effect again for the PFL Challenger Series 3 main event.

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Stylistically, the PFL Challenger Series 3 main event on Friday looks to favor Danilo Marques, a boxer and brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, compared to Ras Hylton’s background as a Shotokan karate fighter. The first punch of the fight could be the only punch we see.

Marques Can’t Take Too Many Shots

If Danilo Marques absorbs too many shots in the main event on Friday night, as he did in early 2021 during his fight against Kennedy Nzechukwu, it could be a short night. In the third and final round, the latter came out like a house on fire, landing a barrage of punches.

Even though Danilo Marques tried to cover up and block Nzechukwu’s solid strikes, it was to no avail. Nzechukwu was simply too tough and too vicious for Marques to handle. The referee rescued a clearly gassed Marques just 20 seconds into the round.

Quite simply, Danilo Marques cannot afford to take a slew of left-handed punches in the PFL Challenger Series 3 main event. If he does, this one will be over before you get back from the kitchen with your sandwich and potato chips.

Ras Hylton is Brutal With Knockouts

In the other corner, we’ve already mentioned how quick Ras Hylton can be in scoring the knockout. His July 30 win against Cody Lightfoot was of the “blink and you’ll miss it” variety.

Although the fight was advertised for three rounds at five minutes per round, Hylton needed just a few seconds to collect his paycheck for the evening.

During the first round of a scheduled three in an outdoor event, both men landed solid punches, with Lightfoot putting Hylton in a clinch. Upon exiting the clinch, Hylton landed a single punch right on the button to flatten Lightfoot like a pancake.

From there, Hylton landed a short burst of ground and pound shots to close the fight. All it takes for Ras Hylton to win the PFL Challenger Series 3 main event is for one solid punch to land on target.

Final Thoughts

Quite simply, you’re going to need to make your fridge run before the PFL Challenger Series 3 main event starts on Friday night. Get that sandwich and potato chips made ahead of time.

By the time you take a bite, it could be done and dusted.

Prediction: Ras Hylton by First-Round Knockout.

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Drew Zuhosky has been writing about MMA since the spring of 2018. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew enjoys a good game and an even better fight. When he's not writing, you can find him playing video games and listening to music.