Top Reasons to Watch PFL vs. Bellator Champs

PFL
February 21, 2024
The Professional Fighters League will kickstart 2024 by giving mixed martial arts fans a champion-versus-champion card following its acquisition of Bellator MMA. The PFL vs. Bellator Champs event takes place this Saturday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The Professional Fighters League will kickstart 2024 by giving mixed martial arts fans a champion-versus-champion card following its acquisition of Bellator MMA. The PFL vs. Bellator Champs event takes place this Saturday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The highly anticipated event will go down at the Kingdom Arena, built last year to host a boxing clash between Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou. The card will mark the start of the PFL’s pay-per-view Super Fight Series and will air on ESPN+ and DAZN.

The card will be headlined by a heavyweight clash pitting Bellator heavyweight champion Ryan Bader against the PFL’s Renan Ferreira. The 2023 PFL light heavyweight champion, Impa Kasanganay, will move down to middleweight and take on Bellator’s Johnny Eblen in the co-main event. Additionally, Bellator welterweight champion Jason Jackson will take on the PFL’s Ray Cooper III in a 182-pound catchweight tilt, while PFL’s Gabriel Braga steps up on short notice to face Bellator featherweight king Patricio “Pitbull” Freire.

Meanwhile, the bill will also feature a light heavyweight clash pitting two former UFC fighters against one another. The PFL’s Thiago Santos will face off against Bellator’s Yoel Romero in a meeting that will witness one of the veterans return to winning ways. If that was not enough, the marquee show will host Biaggio Ali Walsh’s professional MMA debut against Emmanuel Palacio in a lightweight affair, along with the return of women’s boxing star Claressa Shields, as she takes on Kelsey De Santis in her third professional mixed martial arts bout.

With all this in mind, here are the top reasons to watch PFL vs. Bellator Champs:

‘Probelma’ vs. ‘Darth’

The final bout of the evening will witness two distinguished heavyweight practitioners compete for the PFL vs. Bellator championship belt, as Bader takes on Ferreira. Undefeated at heavyweight, Bader will enter the cage on the heels of a three-fight winning streak, most recently securing a Round 1 technical knockout victory over Fedor Emelianenko in a rematch at Bellator 290 in February 2023. The 40-year-old has not shown any signs of slowing down despite his nearly two decade-long career in the sport. On the other hand, Ferreira, 34, will enter the match three months after winning the PFL 2023 heavyweight season against Denis Goltsov via Round 2 TKO. Currently on a four-fight unbeaten streak, the Brazilian sports an 83% knockout rate and will also enjoy a six-inch height advantage over his 6-foot-2 opponent. This matchup has all the makings of a barnburner that will keep all of us on the edge of our seats.

Middleweight Supremacy

Following a tumultuous run in the UFC, Kasanganay is currently on a six-fight winning streak that saw him recently capture the PFL 2023 light heavyweight championship with a unanimous decision win over Joshua Silveira in November. The Kill Cliff Fight Club product has shown signs of improvement with each outing and will now make his return to middleweight. “Tshilobo” last competed at 185 pounds in July 2022. Taking on Kasanganay will be an undefeated Bellator MMA champion in Eblen. Currently sporting a 14-0 professional record, the Florida native will enter the cage on the heels of two successful title defenses in 2023 against Anatoly Tokov and Fabian Edwards. With both competitors entering the bout with momentum on their side, fans can expect the two to put on a fight for the ages.

Throwback Clash

A former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight contender, Santos will enter the cage after suffering a unanimous decision loss at the hands of Rob Wilkinson in his PFL debut; it was later overturned to a no contest after both athletes tested positive for banned substances. Romero, on the other hand, has gone 2-2 in his Bellator run and is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Vadim Nemkov in a failed light heavyweight title bid at Bellator 297. Before that, the 46-year-old was on a winning streak in 2022 that saw him record back-to-back third-round finishes against Melvin Manhoef and Alex Polizzi. Over the years, both competitors have developed a reputation for being lethal competitors that possess jaw-shattering power in their strikes. Coming off losses, the two will be extra motivated to return to the win column and put on an exciting decisive performance come fight night.

The return of ‘T-Rex’

Arguably one of the greatest women boxers of all-time, Shields will return to the cage in preliminary action. The Michigan native will take on De Santis in a 165-pound catchweight affair looking to bounce back from a split-decision loss to Abigail Montes in October 2021. Meanwhile, De Santis will face Shields after recording her first professional MMA victory over Kathleen Noy Nelson via Round 1 TKO in October. All eyes will be on Shields as the Olympic gold medalist in boxing takes the next step in her MMA career with this matchup.

Reference: https://www.sherdog.com/news/articles/Top-Reasons-to-Watch-PFL-vs-Bellator-Champs-192676

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