2021 PFL Finals early preview and predictions for all six PFL title fights.
The finals of the 2021 PFL Playoffs go down on Oct. 27 from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL. The event is headlined by six PFL championship fights, with a $1 million cash prize going to the winner of each title bout.
Among the field are three returning champions. Kayla Harrison will look to become the first PFL fighter to win back-to-back championships, as she will presumably come in as the heavy favorite over Taylor Guardado.
Meanwhile, the PFL welterweight final sees the 2019 champion taking on the 2018 champion, as Ray Cooper III takes on Magomed Magomegkerimov in a rematch from their 2018 PFL final bout.
Let’s take a look at all of the title bouts on the PFL 10 card.
Antônio Carlos Júnior vs. Marthin Hamlet
Antonio Carlos Junior comes into the 2021 PFL light heavyweight finals against Norweigien Marthin Hamlet riding the momentum of a 2-0 record (with 1 no contest), since making his debut with the promotion earlier this year.
Junior came to the PFL after a three-fight losing streak found him outside of the UFC. He has since made a name for himself in the PFL circuit and comes into the PFL finals off of an impressive performance against Emiliano Sordi in the light heavyweight semi-finals.
Meanwhile, Martin Hamlet is 2-1 since coming into the PFL earlier this year and is coming off of a stoppage win due to injury against Cezar Ferreira in his PFL semi-final.
While Hamlet has shown improvements since coming into the PFL, he is taking on one of the most underrated fighters in the promotion in Junior. The Brazillian should make short work of Hamlet, and secure the $1 million dollar cash prize.
Prediction: Junior by submission
Movlid Khaybulaev vs. Chris Wade
The 2021 PFL featherweight finals see the Russian Movlid Khaybulaev put his unbeaten record on the line against Long Island MMA product Chris Wade.
Khaibulaev is 5-0-1 (with 1 no contest) since making his PFL debut back in 2019. Khaibulaev has put together a streak of three decision wins in the 2021 PFL season, with his most recent one coming in a controversial split decision against Brendan Loughnane in the PFL semi-finals.
Meanwhile, his opponent Chris Wade is coming off of an upset victory over Bubba Jenkins in the PFL semi-finals, securing his chance at the $1 million dollar cash prize. Wade is 8-3 in the PFL and managed a 5-2 record in the UFC before coming to the PFL in 2018. While his wrestling, kick-boxing, and jiujitsu game have been sharp enough to get him to the finals of this PFL featherweight division, his luck streak might run out against the Dagestani Khaybulaev.
Prediction: Khaybulaev by decision
Ante Delija vs. Bruno Cappelozza
The Croatian Ante Delija comes into the PFL heavyweight finals against Bruno Cappelozza in a rematch from the 2021 PFL regular season.
Cappelozza put Delija away just 46 seconds into his PFL debut back in May. The Brazillian heavyweight is 3-0 in the PFL and has run through the majority of the competition put in front of him in his professional fighting career.
As for Delija, the Croatian brawler is coming off of an impressive win over Denis Goltsov in the PFL semi-finals. Delija is 3-1 since making his PFL debut back in 2019, with his only PFL loss coming against Cappelozza.
While Delija is one of the toughest fighters in the PFL heavyweight division, his toughness and willingness to step forward may detriment his success against the ultra-aggressive and hard-hitting Cappelozza, this fight should likely go the same way the first meeting went and should probably end with Cappelozza claiming the $1 million cash prize.
Prediction: Cappelozza by KO
Kayla Harrison vs. Taylor Guardado
Kayla Harrison comes into her second PFL finals appearance looking to become one of the first fighters in the promotion’s history to win back-to-back PFL championships.
Her opponent is Taylor Guardado, who had an impressive amateur MMA career but took a long layoff before making her professional MMA debut last year.
Since an unsuccessful debut in the Invicta FC Phoenix Series finals, Guardado set her sights on the PFL, has strung together three straight wins, and now finds herself in the women’s lightweight tournament finals.
As for her opponent Kayla Harrison, the two-time Judo Olympic gold medalist has made short work of almost every opponent she has faced in her 11 fight MMA career, and this bout should be much of the same. While Guardado has shown decent wrestling, it will be absolutely no match against the superior skills of Harrison.
Apart from a deadly grappling and submission game, Harrison has swiftly polished a dangerous ground and pound to her repertoire as well, which should be where she finds the finish in the match-up.
It should be easy work for Harrison, who will likely come in as the massive favorite in her second PFL finals appearance.
Prediction: Harrison by TKO
Loik Radzhabov vs. Raush Manfio
Loik Radzhabov comes into his second PFL finals appearance, hoping to make good on another chance at the $1 million prize. Radhzabov lost a five-round unanimous decision to Natan Schulte back in 2019 but finds himself once again in the PFL finals against another Brazillian in Raush Manfio.
Manfio is 3-0 since coming into the PFL, with all three wins coming by way of decision. Manfio picked up the controversial split decision victory over Clay Collard in the PFL semi-finals and will presumably be a sizable underdog against Radzhabov in this match-up.
While Radzhabov does have the skill-set edge in this bout, Manfio has shown an ability to exceed expectations on numerous occasions. If Manfio wins this fight, he will likely need to take it into the deep-waters against a fighter in Radzhabov who has been known to gas out in the later rounds. With that in mind, Manfio may be able to pull off another upset and follow in his close friend Natan Schulte’s footsteps by capturing PFL gold.
Prediction: Manfio by decision
Ray Cooper III vs. Magomed Magomedkerimov
The marquee fight on the PFL 10 card is the PFL welterweight championship bout between Ray Cooper III and Magomed Magomedkerimov.
Cooper is the returning 2019 PFL champion and is taking on the 2018 champion Magomedkerimov in a rematch from their 2018 PFL finals meeting.
Although Cooper was admittedly dominated in their first meeting, he has grown substantially as a fighter and should give a better showing against the Russian in this second meeting.
Prediction: Cooper by decision