Photo: AP Photo/Matt Rourke
Men's lightweight and featherweights competed in their final regular-season bout Thursday night before the Professional Fighters League playoffs start in August.
In a special main event, boxing world champion and 2-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields made her MMA debut. After her opponent, grappling veteran Brittney Elkin, held her down for the first two rounds, Shields was able to take advantage of Elkin’s fading stamina.
“I knew it would be completely different, and that is what we trained for,” Shields said. “There was just something that came over me...I thought she was getting tired because when she was holding me down she was just holding me down.”
Although the main event was just a special treat and will not play into the immediate playoff picture, some standout performances will have huge implications for August. Although a few fights were moved to PFL 6 due to illness and other issues, the playoff picture is quite molded.
At 155-pounds, Clay Collard and Loik Radzhabov have clinched playoff spots with six points each. Collard survived an onslaught and later a tough third round against Joilton Lutterbach.
In the featherweight division, things are a bit more solidified from PFL 4. Three of the four playoff spots are filled, with it all coming down to the matchup between Lance Palmer and Movlid Khaybulaev at PFL 6.
After grabbing a commanding lead of the division in the first regular-season bout, all Brendan Loughnane needed was a win to clinch an appearance in August. After the unofficial fight of the night (as deemed by hoards of fans online) he managed to edge Tyler Diamond out and now leads the division with nine points.
Just below him sits Chris Wade with eight points and another undefeated 2021 record. Wade has been in the PFL for a few seasons but recently found sanctity in the featherweight division.
“I’ve been in the semifinals twice,” Wade said. “I am here to win this thing. I am here to take this title. I had to soul search here a little bit...and that is why you are seeing these types of performances now. I am not afraid anymore.”
The other 145-er to clinch a position is Bubba Jenkins. Along with his eccentric and exciting personality, he brought the heat while also weathering the storm to squeeze into the playoffs.
Now, the possibility of a fight between Jenkins and Loughnane has never been more real and exciting.
“I love the bracket that I am in,” Jenkins said. “I would like to see that British boy because we have been talking a lot and having some good fun back and forth. I am America, bro. The reason why we are free is because they couldn’t stop us in the beginning, so let’s get this thing going.”
Overall, PFL 4 hosted a full lineup of incredibly important bouts and has helped shape the playoff picture. With this season's format, every fight matters, but the second and final regular-season one holds even more pressure and anticipation.
On Thursday, June 17 welterweights and light heavyweights will look to do the same and punch their tickets one step closer to the $1 million grand prizes.
***Clay Collard: 2-0, 6 points
***Loik Radzhabov: 1-1, 6 points
Akhmed Aliev: 1-1, 3 points
Alexander Martinez: 1-1, 3 points
Marcin Held: 1-1, 3 points
Raush Manfio: 1-0, 3 points
Joilton Lutterbach: 0-2, 0 points
Natan Schulte: 1-1, 3 points
Olivier Aubin-Mercier: 1-0, 2 points
Anthony Pettis: 0-1, 0 points
***Brendan Loughnane: 2-0, 9 points
***Chris Wade: 2-0, 8 points
***Bubba Jenkins: 2-0, 6 points
Sheymon Moraes: 1-1, 5 points
Tyler Diamond: 1-1, 3 points
Movlid Khaybulaev: 1-0, 3 points
Lance Palmer: 0-1, 0 points
Bobby Moffett: 0-1, 0 points
Jesse Stirn: 0-1, 0 points
Arman Ospanov: 0-1, 0 points
***= clinched spot in playoffs