HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — After a full season of PFL fights in six divisions, and a playoff win for each fighter remaining, twelve fighters will walk into the cage Wednesday at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida with a chance to be a champion. Only six will end the night with a PFL gold title belt and a $1 million first-place payout.
Three fighters on the card have been there before. Kayla Harrison has swept through the majority of two consecutive PFL seasons in the women’s lightweight division, and she has a chance to cap her second straight campaign as a PFL champion. The only person standing in her way is Taylor Guardado.
Magomed Magomedkerimov won the inaugural PFL welterweight champion in 2018, defeating Ray Cooper III in the finals. In 2019, with Magomedkerimov forced out midway through the playoffs, Cooper won that title. The long-awaited rematch will determine the PFL’s welterweight king in 2021.
Four other $1 million champions will be crowned. At heavyweight, Bruno Cappelozza has breezed through his first three fights with three TKO victories — two in the first round, and one in the second. The first of those wins came against Ante Delija, who gets a chance at revenge as Cappelozza’s finals opponent.
Featherweight Chris Wade twice fought his way into the PFL semifinals in previous seasons at lightweight, but fell just a hair short of a championship bout both times. With a move down to featherweight, Wade finally broke through in 2021. He faces a tough challenge against undefeated Movlid Khaybulaev.
In 2019, Loik Radzhabov beat Wade to make the lightweight finals, where he lost to Natan Schulte. In what will be the first of six title fights into the cage, he’ll take on Raush Manfio. That fight will be followed by a light heavyweight title fight between longtime UFC veteran Antonio Carlos Junior and Marthin Hamlet.
In non-title action, ESPN’s No. 2 women’s pound-for-pound boxer Claressa Shields fights for the second time in the world of MMA, taking on Abigail Montes. Former Bellator women’s featherweight champion Julia Budd, recently signed to the PFL, takes on Kaitlin Young. Both of these fights will happen at 155 pounds.
Mike Coppinger is in attendance, and he and Jeff Wagenheim will cover the action live. Follow along throughout the night for instant updates and analysis.
Fight in progress
Madge is a former Muay Thai world champion, so obviously the way to beat a striking specialist like him is to take him to the canvas and … oh, wait.
Williams succeeded in getting Madge to the mat in Round 2, after the two had spent most of the first round on their feet. Williams was on top, starting to go to work, when Madge reversed position and efficiently put his opponent in a rear-naked choke to get the tapout at 2:15.
Both men were making their PFL debuts. Madge, a 30-year-old South African who came over from the UFC but had not competed in over two years, has won seven in a row. Williams, who is 34 and from Stone Mountain, Georgia, has lost two of his last three.
Still to come:
8 p.m. ET, ESPN2 and ESPN+
Live on ESPN+