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What to look for with every fighter in PFL 2

Photo: PFL

In the second Professional Fighters League event of the 2021 season, welterweights and light heavyweights will be in search of some early regular-season points. This card features grizzled vets, potential young stars, and everything in between. Here is something to look for in each fighter competing on Thursday night!

Rory MacDonald (21-6-1) vs. Curtis Millender (18-6)

These two fighters are duking it out for the main event, having both competed in the UFC and Bellator before signing with the PFL.

Millender is a dangerous kickboxer and MacDonald is known to be a ground guy who can still hold his own on the feet. This is a very interesting matchup because MacDonald is one of the top picks to win the whole tournament. If PFL 1 has set any precedent, no odds are too large to overcome.

For MacDonald, the game plan is to avoid damage as much as possible and do what he knows he can.

“I’m looking to stop him as early as I can and rack up as many points as possible,” MacDonald said. “That being said, I’m not going to rush anything either. I’m just going to fight my fight. Curtis is an excellent striker, and [has a] very dynamic kickboxing game, so I will make sure to stay away from all of his best options.”

For Millender, just being on the stage against his opponent is a dream come true.

“[This is] hands down the biggest fight of my life,” Millender said. “I’m ready to go and cash in... Coming up on a club show, I was always the main event. Being the main event on ESPN is a big deal. I’m excited to go out there and display to the millions what I can do.”

Ray Cooper III (20-7-1) vs. Jason Ponet (20-12-1)

The co-main event can go a lot of ways. Cooper brings incredible knockout power, but he also has a few submission wins under his belt. Ponet, meanwhile, is on a three-fight win streak despite not being active since 2019.

The kicker in this fight is Cooper’s experience in the PFL. He is the 2019 welterweight champion and has a 7-2-1 record with the organization. Look for this type of experience to shine through in the co-main event.

Joao Zeferino (24-9) vs. Gleison Tibau (34-14)

Similar to the co-main event, this matchup features one guy who is very experienced with the promotion and the other who is making his debut. Zeferino is 6-3 with the PFL and Tibau will be christened into the organization on Thursday.

Zeferino is rocking a three-fight win streak, whereas Tibau has dropped four of his last six. Both are going to be looking to make a statement and, again, we will see if PFL experience plays any part in the fight.

Emiliano Sordi (22-8) vs. Chris Camozzi (25-14)

For whatever reason, the PFL matchmakers love pairing PFL veterans and fighters looking to make their promotional debut. This is yet another case of that. Sordi has amassed a 6-1 record in the PFL with a 100% finish rate. Camozzi will be making his PFL debut, but he is happy to be the underdog.

“I like gambling on sports, so keep me as the dog,” Camozzi said. “Let my friends make some money.”

Antonio Carlos Jr. (10-5) vs. Tom Lawlor (10-7)

One of the more interesting paths through combat sports comes from Tom Lawlor. Although his tenure in MMA has been a bit rocky, he has found success as a professional wrestler. Now, he is returning to the sport for the first time since 2018 and looking for his first win since 2015.

Both guys are former UFC fighters who are looking to get their careers back on track, so expect a war from these two come Thursday.

Vinny Magalhaes (19-12) vs. Jordan Young (11-1)

The story of PFL 2 continues as Magalhaes, who is 5-3 in the PFL, faces off against a bustling contender. Young is the youngest fighter on the entire PFL roster, but his experience in Bellator setting him up for success in the new organization.

Magalhaes said in the pre-fight press conference that he is ready for anything Young could throw at him. Expect an interesting matchup in this one.

Cezar Ferreira (13-8) vs. Nick Roehrick (8-1)

Both of these fighters will be making their PFL debuts on Thursday. Ferreira has spent a good amount of time in the UFC, whereas Roehrick is still looking for his chance to shine on the big stage.

Look for Ferriera to shoot for takedowns and be prepared for a long fight as both fighters are decision machines.

Sadibou Sy (8-5-2) vs. Nikolai Aleksakhin (24-5)

One of the more unique fighters on this lineup is Swede Sadibou Sy, who stands at 6’3” and has lead fists. This matchup is interesting because Sy has notably struggled to get his career under hold, while Aleksakhin holds an impressive record and hasn’t lost since 2016. This is going to be a must-win situation for Sy, both stay in the tournament and to have hopes of being signed somewhere big next year.

Dan Spohn (18-7) vs. Marthin Hamlet (6-1)

To kick off PFL 2, anything can happen between Spohn and Hamlet. Spohn can hit hard and wrestle. Hamlet is a young fighter who can keep up. It is fair to say that this could be a boxing match just as likely as it going to the ground.

PFL 2 will start on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. EST on ESPN+ then ESPN 2.

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