PFL vs Bellator

Published on 22 February 2024 at 20:00

Despite the UFC being the top MMA organisation in the world, Bellator MMA and PFL are not far behind. PFL have acquired Bellator and so have made a landmark event as to who will be the champions and contenders of each division. On February 24, the event is set to take place at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia which is exactly where Ngannou vs Joshua takes place on March 8. Therefore, let's have a dive into this fight card to see who will be fighting at this highly anticipated MMA event.


Early card

Malik Basahel vs Vinicius Pereira (Flyweight Bout) - Basahel is making his professional MMA debut in his home country of Saudi Arabia has he has shown to impress the MMA community with an amateur record of 17 wins, two losses and one draw. Malik has won his last five fights and looks to shine on his debut now that he has signed with PFL.

Pereira is currently undefeated with just five fights in his MMA career as four have consecutively ended in a stoppage. The Brazilian fighter is seen as a big submission threat and a huge prospect going into his fight at Riyadh as he looks to make a mark in the opening stage of the event.


Abdullah Al-Qahtani vs Edukondala Rao (Featherweight Bout) - Al-Qahtani is a Saudi Arabian fighter who is signed with the PFL having just two fights in the company with first-round submission victory and an unanimous decision win. With eight total fights in his MMA career, The Reaper has only lost once as he looks to impress the crowd of his home country. 

Rao is an Indian fighter with five professional career fights as despite losing his most recent fight by unanimous decision, he has stopped his other four opponents as three have submitted to the The Badger in the second round whilst one has been knocked out in the first round. It is a great opportunity to redeem a loss in such a prestigious event.


Claressa Shields vs Kelsey DeSantis (Women's Super Lightweight Bout) - Shields has only two fights in MMA and has not fought since 2021 as she was victorious in June with a third-round TKO win but lost by split decision in October. T-Rex will fight for the third time and look to shine in the only female fight of the card.

DeSantis has only had three professional fights in her MMA career as despite having two decision losses, her most recent bout ended with a first-round TKO win. Fighting out of Miami, Florida, Kelsey has the chance to become a recognised-fighter if she is victorious against Claressa Shields in Saudi Arabia.


Biaggio Ali Walsh vs Emmanuel Palacio (Lightweight Bout) - Ali Walsh is the grandson of the most legendary boxer, Muhammad Ali. Biaggio is proving to be like his grandfather but in the MMA world as his last six fights have ended by KO/TKO as he has become a well-recognised fighter in the PFL. It will not be surprising if he hear plenty of cheers for the Chicago-born fighter.

Palacio has only had one professional fight in MMA which occurred in early December when he won by first-round submission. El Vikingo will be fighting on a bigger stage and with a bigger atmosphere compared to his debut as the Argentinian looks to stay undefeated after his second fight.


Aaron Pico vs Henry Corrales (Featherweight Bout) - Pico is a professional fighter who has only ever fought on Bellator since 2017 as with 16 fights, he has won 12 of them with eight ending by KO/TKO and two by submission. The Whittier-born fighter is currently on a two-fight winning streak and with his most recent fight ending by first-round TKO at Bellator 299, he will look to repeat that in Riyadh.

Also signed with Bellator, Corrales has fought in the organisation since 2015 as he has picked up 21 wins in his MMA career with seven ending by knockout and six stopped by submission. Henry has previously fought Pico before as he defeated him by first-round knockout at Bellator 214. A perfect opportunity to repeat the same result against the same opponent at a much more anticipated event.


Main Card

Clay Collard vs A.J. McKee (Lightweight Bout) - Collard is a PFL fighter who has defeated top MMA fighters such as Shane Burgos, Jeremy Stephens and Anthony Pettis. Cassius has previously fought in the UFC but did not have a lot of success as he did once face former Featherweight champion, Max Holloway and lost by TKO. Clay lost his last fight which stopped a three-fight winning streak as he will be aiming for redemption in Riyadh.

McKee has only fought in Bellator since the start of his professional career in 2015 as he has only lost one bout and won the rest of his 21 fights with the organisation. The Mercenary did become the Featherweight Champion at Bellator 263 when he defeated Patricio Pitbull in the first round by submission, however he lost the rematch at Bellator 277 and has not had a title fight since. An interesting Lightweight battle to see who really will be the top contender of the weight division.


Thiago Santos vs Yoel Romero (Light Heavyweight Bout) - Thiago Santos made his PFL debut on April 1, 2023 when he lost to Robert Wilkinson by unanimous decision. Marreta is very well-known for fighting in the UFC as he once was the title challenger against Jon Jones at UFC 239 when he lost by split decision. Since his UFC title loss in 2019, Santos has only won one fight as he looks to get his first victory under the PFL.

Yoel Romero last competed for the Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship at Bellator 297 but unfortunately lost by unanimous decision against Vadim  Nemkov. Like Thiago Santos, The Solider of God is very-well recognised from the UFC as he has challenged for a UFC title three times but has never won despite missing weight for on of them. Out of 15 wins, Romero has knocked out 13 opponents and looks like he is not in the mood for stopping despite being 46 years old.


Bruno Cappelozza vs Vadim Nemkov (Heavyweight Bout) - Cappelozza has been seen as a wild knockout artist and a fiery contender to watch in the PFL as out of the 16 wins that Bruno has earned in his MMA career, 15 have ended by knockout. The Brazilian fighter was on a five-fight winning streak until in June 2022, he lost by unanimous decision against Matheus Scheffel but avenged his loss when he defeated him 10 months later in a rematch. The experienced Heavyweight will be a one-to-watch at PFL vs Bellator.

Nemkov has looked unstoppable ever since he entered Bellator as he was Light Heavyweight Champion for over three years before vacating the belt, defeating the likes of Yoel Romero, Corey Anderson and Ryan Bader. Tomarovka-born fighter has only lost twice in his career as one of those unfortunate bouts came against former UFC Light Heavyweight champion, Jiri Prochazka, losing by knockout which Cappelozza had a similar scenario in his career. Nemkov looks to make a good first impression moving up to Heavyweight and potentially facing the winner of the main event.


Ray Cooper III vs Jason Jackson (Catchweight Bout) - Ray Cooper has been fighting with PFL since July 2018 and has been on an incredible record with the organisation as he has 12 wins, four losses and one draw. Bradda's last fight did not go to plan as he lost to former UFC fighter, Derek Brunson, by unanimous decision as the Hawaiian fighter has not been victorious since July 2022. Cooper will look to get back in the win column in Saudi Arabia.

Jason Jackson is the current Bellator Welterweight Champion and has been on a seven-fight winning streak. His last victory may have been the best in his career when he became champion and became the first fighter to defeat Yaroslav Amosov, winning by knockout at Bellator 301. The Jamaican fighter may be fighting at a Catchweight bout of 182lbs, which is out of his usual weight class range, but he will be sure to make an impact in the Kingdom Arena.


Patricio Pitbull vs Gabriel Alves Braga (Featherweight Bout) - Patricio 'Pitbull' Freire is the current Bellator Featherweight Champion and has been fighting in the organisation since April 2010 as he has fought in the most bouts in Bellator history with a total of 26 fights. His last two fights have been rather unfortunate as he lost by first-round knockout against Chihiro Suzuki at Super Rizin 2: Rizin X Bellator and lost to Sergio Pettis by unanimous decision at Bellator 297. Questions will be asked whether Pitbull can redeem himself or extend his losing streak to three.

Gabriel Alves Braga has been fighting with the PFL for just under a year as his current MMA record is 12 wins and one loss. Alves Braga's most recent fight did not end well as he lost by third-round TKO against Jesus Pinedo in late November which stopped his undefeated run. The Brazilian fighter not only has a great opportunity to redeem his last fight but defeat one of the most experienced fighters in Bellator history.


Impa Kasanganay vs Johnny Eblen (Middleweight Bout) - Kasanganay joined the PFL in 2023 and after five fights with the company, he became Middleweight champion. Tshilobo previously fought in the UFC but was having a tough time with the competition as two knockout losses saw him get released from the organisation. Kasanganay is currently on a six fight winning streak and after defeating Joshua Silveira to win the PFL Middleweight Championship, he will look to remain as champion after the Co-Main Event.

Eblen is an undefeated fighter who has been fighting with Bellator since March 2019 and currently holds the Middleweight title for the MMA promotion. The Human Cheat Code's last fight went to perfection as he defended his Middleweight belt by knocking out Fabian Edwards, brother of UFC Welterweight Champion Leon Edwards, in the third round at Bellator 299. With his last three wins being title triumphs, Johnny Eblen will look to stay as champion and stay undefeated in one of the biggest fights in his career.


Renan Ferreira vs Ryan Bader (Heavyweight Bout) - Ferreira has fought with PFL since May 2021 and has recently gone on to win the PFL Heavyweight title when he defeated Denis Goltsov by second-round TKO at the 2023 PFL World Championships in late November. Problema is currently on a three-fight knockout winning streak and has 10 KO/TKO wins out of the 12 victories he has in his MMA career, proving to be the real knockout artist. The Brazilian has the opportunity to fight one of the most experienced MMA fighters to this present day and will look to keep his title as Heavyweight Champion.

Bader is the current Bellator Heavyweight champion and has been fighting with MMA promotion since June 2017 after exiting the UFC eight months before. Bader has made history in Bellator, becoming the first simultaneous two-division champion with the Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight belts. Darth Bader is on a three-fight winning streak and his last fight ended very successfully when he knocked out MMA Heavyweight legend, Fedor Emelianenko, for the second time in his career at Bellator 290. In a truly historic event, Ryan Bader has the opportunity to become an MMA icon if he can keep his Heavyweight Championship in Riyadh.


Featured Images: Israel Pino, realitychecksystems.


Written by Charlie Oxtoby


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Twitter: Charlie_Oxtoby1

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