Khaybulaev, a Season 2 vet, took home scores of 30-27 and 29-28 over Loughnane, who was awarded one 29-28 scorecard despite spending wide swaths of the PFL 9 headliner on his back and on the defensive. Khaybulaev took a page out of his mentor Khabib Nurmagomedov’s handbook, grinding out his opponent and surviving a third-round scare that mangled his nose.
With Khaybulaev’s win, the featherweight tournament finals will see the Dagestani fighter take on Chris Wade, who also got in line for a $1 million payday with a masterful performance against rival Bubba Jenkins. Light heavyweights Antonio Carlos Junior and Marthin Hamlet won their fights to set the finals at 205 pounds.
PFL 9 took place at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla., and aired live on ESPN2 and ESPN+.
The tone for the fight was established early when Loughnane’s leg kick was intercepted for a takedown. Rather than open his guard and look for a scramble, the U.K. vet tried to do damage from the bottom, which he achieved with moderate success. When he managed to get up in the final seconds of the first, he was summarily slammed back to the mat.
Khaybulaev got within striking distance of a finish in the second when he trapped Loughnane’s arm and struck with impunity from top position. He was tested in the third when Loughnane landed an uppercut-hook combo that rattled him and opened up his nose. But he ended the fight where he spent much of it: smothering Lougnane.
Wade makes first PFL final
Chris Wade got the last laugh against rival Bubba Jenkins and got his first ticket to a PFL tournament final.
After falling short as a lightweight in the first two PFL seasons, Wade got over the hump as a featherweight – and earned bragging rights by outwrestling a national wrestling champ.
Wrestling was Jenkins’ surest path to victory. But time and time again, he was outmaneuvered in grappling exchanges against the fence. Wade exploited every moment Jenkins was out of position and threatened with chokes to stay in control.
Jenkins had one last gasp in the last two minutes of the third round, taking the back and threatening a choke. He was too high on the torso, though, and slid off once again. Wade nearly added insult to injury with a last-second submission attempt. It was a shutout for Wade with unanimous 30-27 scorecards.
Has Chris Wade finally gotten over the playoff hump? He could be heading to the #PFLChampionship. Official decision coming up!#PFLPlayoffs— PFL (@PFLMMA) August 28, 2021
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Shoeface’s grappling comes through vs. 2019 champ
Antonio Carlos Junior is on the verge of making good on his PFL bet.
The UFC vet is bound for the finals after a hard-fought win over 2019 PFL champ Emiliano Sordi, who repeatedly cracked him with a right hand when the fight was standing. By the second, Junior was cut by a punch.
But in the third and final round, and after a blatant fence grab by Sordi, Junior finally managed to get his opponent to the ground and take the back. Not able to mount much offense, Sordi’s final look to the judges might have cost him, with all three giving Junior the fight via 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 scores.
Ferreira injury sets up Hamlet advance
Cezar Ferreira’s bid for the Season 3 light heavyweight title came to a sudden end when he suffered an injury in the opening seconds of his fight with Marthin Hamlet.
Hamlet picked up a TKO just 13 seconds into the first round when Ferreira apparently tore his hamstring, sending him to the canvas and making him a sitting duck for an onslaught of follow-up punches.
There was no delayed reaction for Ferreira on the injury, which caused him to grimace and cluch his right leg after throwing a left front kick, his first strike of the contest. He lay on the canvas for several moments before making his exit from the arena.
WOW... Cezar Ferreira pulls his hamstring 6 seconds into the fight and gets TKO'd by Marthin Hamlet! pic.twitter.com/c27F78rZda— ❌❌❌ (@FTBVids_YT) August 28, 2021
Full PFL 9 results:
Movlid Khaybulaev def. Brendan Loughnane via split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
Chris Wade def. Bubba Jenkins via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Antonio Carlos Junior def. Emiliano Sordi via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Marthin Hamlet def. Cezar Ferreira via TKO (strikes) - Round 1, 0:13