Fabricio Werdum is a former UFC heavyweight champion. He is a multiple-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion. And on Thursday night, he will begin his quest to be a PFL champion.
The 43-year-old from Brazil, who trains in Southern California, will be making his debut with the fight promotion when he faces fellow Brazilian and fellow PFL newcomer Renan Ferreira in the main event at Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The co-main event features 2019 women’s lightweight season champion Kayla Harrison, who faces Mariana Marais. Harrison (8-0), a two-time Olympic judo gold medalist, is 30 years old and trains at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. Morais, a 26-year-old from Brazil, is 16-10.
Werdum (24-9-1) last fought in July, when he submitted Alexander Gustafsson in his UFC swan song. He became champ in 2015, tapping out Cain Velasquez, and lost the belt to Stipe Miocic in his first title defense.
Ferreira, who is 31, stands 6-foot-8 and has a 6-2 record.
Follow along throughout the night for live updates and analysis as the PFL wraps up its first round of regular season fights in 2021.
Full recap to come…
Cappelozza absorbed some hard, straight punches at the start, but they did not stop him from marching forward. And when he landed a looping right hand that wobbled Delija against the cage, Cappelozza pounced with a lightning-fast flurry of 15 rights and lefts that left his opponent slumped until referee Gary Copeland jumped in just 46 seconds into Round 1.
The 31-year-old Cappelozza (11-5), who earned 6 points for the quick finish, has won four of his last five fights. His only defeat during that time was a 2018 knockout loss in the Rizin promotion to Jiri Prochazka, who is now knocking of the door for a title shot in the UFC’s light heavyweight division after a highlight-reel knockout of Dominick Reyes on May 1.
Delija (17-4), a 30-year-old from Croatia who trains with Mirko “CroCop” Filipovic, had won eight of his last nine.
Dandois was forever moving forward, walking down Young for practically the full three rounds of both women’s PFL debuts. And when time Dandois closed in, Young usually met her with a sharp left jab or straight right hand, then used fluid footwork to maneuver back to distance.
Young did not want to engage in close combat with Dandois, a judoka, and it became clear why late in Round 3, when Dandois finally got a hold of her opponent and threw her to the canvas. Young appeared to be countering the takedown, but then Dandois clamped on a standing guillotine choke and nearly got a finish. But Young escaped, and kept her distance the rest of the way to secure the win and the 3 points.
All three judges scored the bout 30-27.
Young (12-10-1), who is 35 and from Circle Pines, Minnesota, has won five of her last six. Dandois (16-6), a 36-year-old Belgian fighting four months after the birth of her sixth child, saw a four-fight winning streak come to an end.
At 6 feet tall and 6-foot-1, both of these women are used to utilizing size and reach advantages by fighting from distance. But with that advantage neutralized, this matchup of tall fighters spent most of its time with the two clinched against the cage, where Fabian had a narrow advantage in a relatively uneventful 15 minutes.
All three judges scored the bout 30-27, with Fabian earning the decision win and 3 points in the women’s lightweight standings.
Fabian (3-1), who is 31 and from New Zealand, landed a few head kicks and some straight punches, but did her most damage with a third-round clash of heads, which drew blood over Sanchez’s right eye.
Sanchez (1-1), a 30-year-old fighting out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, became aggressive with just over a minute left, leading to some punching exchanges and some shots landing. But both fighters were still standing at the final bell.
Goltsov softened up his late-replacement opponent with a nonstop barrage of punches and kicks to the head and body, then took DeReese to the canvas with just over a minute left in the round, and finished his belly-down opponent with ground-and-pound at 4:21, earning 6 points and an early advantage in the PFL heavyweight division.
Goltsov (26-6), a 30-year-old Russian, got back on track after seeing a six-fight winning streak ended in the 2019 PFL playoffs by that season’s eventual champion, Ali Isaev. Goltsov landed 41 strikes to just nine by DeReese.
DeReese (8-3), who is 32 and from Titusville, Florida, also competed in the 2019 PFL season, going 1-3. He was booked for this fight on Wednesday after Goltsov’s original opponent, Justin Willis, was not medically cleared after making weight.
Guardado got takedowns in all three rounds, and Kolesnyk (5-3, 1 NC) had difficulty getting Guardado’s body off of her — through legal means, at least. In the first round, she pushed Guardado away with her legs, then appeared to knee her in the back of the head, undetected by the referee. But in Round 2, Kolesnyk was deducted a point after her second eye gouge of the fight.
The judges scored the bout 30-26, 30-26 and 29-27 in Guardado’s favor.
The 1-1 record of Guardado is deceiving. The 29-year-old from Las Vegas returned to MMA last year after competing as an amateur a decade ago, going 9-1 with wins over future UFC fighters Raquel Pennington and Ashlee Evans-Smith — with her only loss coming against Ronda Rousey.
Kolesnyk, who is 31 and from Ukraine, has lost three in a row.
Umalatov (10-0) remained unbeaten by dropping a damaged Bowen with his first punch of Round 2 — an overhand right 7 seconds into the round that gave him the win, in a non-season welterweight showcase bout he was dominating.
The 29-year-old from Russia landed 91 strikes (to eight for Bowen), all but two of them from top position after taking the fight to the canvas in the opening seconds. Bowen (9-6), who is 27 and from Springfield, Illinois, defended well for much of the round but ultimately lost his second in a row after being on a seven-fight winning streak.
Still to come at PFL 3…