The Skilled Fighters League’s second season will get underway Might 9 with 68 fighters competing from Might till New Yr’s Eve. Will Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison proceed her unbeaten streak and reign supreme within the ladies’s light-weight division? Which titleholders from final 12 months will repeat as champions, including one other $1 million to their financial institution accounts?
Forward of Thursday’s PFL 1, we’re breaking down every division with a favourite and a darkish horse.
Kayla Harrison is the prohibitive favourite this season within the PFL’s ladies’s light-weight division. PFL
The favourite: Kayla Harrison (Three-Zero)
Duh. Harrison, who claimed the Olympic gold medal in judo in each the 2012 and 2016 Video games, seems to be an unstoppable power. Her measurement, energy and talent to take opponents to the mat are virtually unparalleled at this division. Two of her three skilled wins to date have been first-round TKO victories. Anticipate that to proceed in a match many consider was created for Harrison to shine.
Do not sleep on: Sarah Kaufman (20-Four)
Kaufman, one of the vital skilled fighters in all the PFL, has spent appreciable time in each the UFC and Invicta. The Canadian would sometimes be a favourite in most matchups, although one huge concern stands out heading into this competitors — she’s going through opponents a lot greater than her. Kaufman is used to combating at bantamweight (135-pound restrict) and now will go up in opposition to ladies who’re used to combating at 155 kilos. It is a choice she needed to make to take part on this season of the PFL, and if she will be able to stand up to the disadvantages that include the change in division, Kaufman might go far.
First regular-season combat: Girls’s light-weight (PFL 1, Might 9)
– Kayla Harrison vs. Larissa Pacheco
– Sarah Kaufman vs. Morgan Frier
– Genah Fabian vs. Bobbi Jo Dalziel
– Moriel Charneski vs. Roberta Samad
Defending PFL featherweight champion Lance Palmer appears to be like to repeat in opposition to a division crammed with former opponents. PFL
The favourite: Lance Palmer (17-Three)
Palmer, the defending PFL featherweight champion, went 5-Zero final 12 months en path to $1 million. It is onerous to wager in opposition to a fighter with that type of momentum. The previous four-time All-American wrestler at Ohio State makes use of these expertise to get his opponent to the mat for heavy ground-and-pound. His greatest competitors would possibly simply be his greatest rival in Andre Harrison. Palmer defeated Harrison by unanimous choice within the PFL semifinals final 12 months, however misplaced the World Collection of Preventing featherweight belt to him in 2017. That competitors might carry over in 2019 in the event that they combat a 3rd time.
Do not sleep on: Jeremy Kennedy (13-1)
The sleeper of this division would possibly really be one other fighter the defending champion is aware of nicely: Lance Palmer’s teammate at Xtreme Couture, Jeremy Kennedy. Not many fighters in PFL’s match boast the expertise and degree of competitors that Kennedy does, even at simply 26 years of age. He was Three-1 within the UFC, together with his solely loss coming to prime featherweight title contender Alexander Volkanovski. After the defeat he fought for the Bahrain-based promotion Courageous Fight Federation and gained his subsequent two fights by KO and TKO, respectively.
First regular-season combat: Featherweight (PFL 2, Might 23)
– Lance Palmer vs. Alex Gilpin
– Andre Harrison vs. Freddy Assuncao
– Alexandre Almeida vs. Luis Rafael Laurentino
– Alexandre Bezerra vs. Jeremy Kennedy
– Damon Jackson vs. Movlid Khaibulaev
– Steven Siler vs. TBD
Natan Schulte made it via the primary season of the PFL undefeated on his method to the light-weight title and $1 million, however fighters like Islam Mamedov will make repeating a harder process. PFL
The favourite: Natan Schulte (15-Three-1)
Schulte entered final 12 months’s match comparatively unknown, however he earned the No. 1 seed within the light-weight division and fought his method into the finals earlier than incomes a unanimous choice win in opposition to Rashid Magomedov for $1 million. PFL’s youngest defending champion gained three of his fights by choice, displaying he has the endurance to hold within the cage for any period of time. He had essentially the most takedowns of any PFL fighter in any division final season.
Do not sleep on: Islam Mamedov (16-2)
Mamedov has gained 15 fights in a row, together with a 2-Zero report final season in PFL, and dropped out within the semifinals of the light-weight match solely on account of sickness. The 29-year-old Russian really defeated the eventual champion, Schulte, by second-round armbar previous to the 2018 PFL season. With a sambo background, his specialty is taking opponents to the mat for ground-and-pound or submission makes an attempt.
First regular-season combat: Light-weight (PFL 2, Might 23)
– Chris Wade vs. Nate Andrews
– Ramsey Nijem vs. Ronys Torres
– Akhmed Aliev vs. Carlao Silva
– Islam Mamedov vs. Ylies Djiroun
– Rashid Magomedov vs. Loik Radzhabov
– Natan Schulte vs. Bao Yincang
Ray Cooper III fell in need of the PFL welterweight championship in 2018 in opposition to Magomed Magomedkerimov, however with 4 knockouts in his first 4 PFL fights, Cooper needs to be thought of one of many favorites the second time round. PFL
The favourite: Ray Cooper III (17-6)
Sure, he misplaced to Magomed Magomedkerimov within the PFL welterweight title combat final 12 months. However the extraordinarily proficient and fun-to-watch Cooper is out for redemption in 2019. The 5-foot-7 Hawaiian was on an absolute tear, competing within the finals final 12 months after 4 knockouts in 4 fights, earlier than working into Magomedkerimov within the finals. Search for Cooper to as soon as once more make noise within the welterweight division.
Do not sleep on: Handesson Ferreira (13-2-1)
Ferreira, a 2018 semifinalist, is one in every of PFL’s most all-around versatile fighters. He had the third-fastest knockout of the season final 12 months when he defeated Paul Bradley by TKO in 20 seconds. Although he misplaced to Cooper in final 12 months’s match, he boasts a earlier win in opposition to him in 2017. The 30-year-old Brazilian may very well be an issue for Cooper in the event that they occur to fulfill for a 3rd time in a grudge match.
First regular-season combat: Welterweight (PFL 1, Might 9)
– Magomed Magomedkerimov vs. John Howard
– Ray Cooper III vs. Zane Kamaka
– Sabidou Sy vs. David Michaud
– Handesson Ferreira vs. Bojan Velickovic
– Gamzat Khiramagomedov vs. Glaico Franca
– Andre Fialho vs. Chris Curtis
The favourite: Jordan Johnson (10-Zero)
With defending champion Sean O’Connell retiring after profitable $1 million final 12 months, the division is large open. Vinny Magalhaes, the runner-up to O’Connell who led the league in submissions final 12 months (three), may very well be an possibility. So too might Russian Maxim Grishin (28-7-1), a fighter with 20 profession wins by stoppage. However essentially the most intriguing decide is Johnson, an undefeated gentle heavyweight who gained all 4 of his fights within the UFC.
Do not sleep on: Ronny Markes (18-7)
Whereas the PFL gentle heavyweight roster has a ton of knockout energy, Markes is somebody you do not wish to end up on the mat with. The 6-foot-1 Brazilian, an elite jiu-jitsu practitioner, has 11 profession wins by stoppage — six of which had been by submission. He practically beat eventual champion Sean O’Connell final 12 months, however bought knocked out later within the combat.
First common season combat: Mild heavyweight (PFL Three, June 6)
– Maxim Grishin vs. Jordan Johnson
– Rakim Cleveland vs. Viktor Nemkov
– Ronny Markes vs. Sigi Pesaleli
– Rashid Yusupov vs. Mikhail Mokhnatkin
– Vinny Magalhaes vs. Emiliano Sordi
– Dan Spohn vs. Bozigit Ataev
Philipe Lins gained all 4 of his fights on the best way to profitable the PFL’s heavyweight crown and $1 million, with three wins coming by TKO and a fourth through submission. PFL
The favourite: Philipe Lins (14-Three)
It is onerous to choose in opposition to the defending champ right here. The Brazilian went an ideal Four-Zero final season, ending all 4 fights early. He is among the extra versatile fighters on the roster, with the flexibility to harm opponents on his ft and on the mat. His first matchup can be must-watch, as he faces 2008 Olympic judo gold medalist Satoshi Ishii.
Do not sleep on: Satoshi Ishii (20-Eight-1)
Ishii has an Olympic pedigree that Lins, and different opponents in his method, needs to be frightened about. Ten of his 20 profession wins have come by submission, and he has three wins prior to now three months. The most important fear is fatigue. Might all of this cage time in 2019 — most fighters compete thrice in 12 months, not to mention three — be an issue long-term?
First regular-season combat: Heavyweight (PFL Three, June 6)
– Philipe Lins vs. Satoshi Ishii
– Kelvin Tiller vs. Muhammed DeReese
– Valdrin Istrefi vs. Ali Isaev
– Alex Nicholson vs. Francimar Barroso
– Jared Rosholt vs. Denis Goltsov
– Ben Edwards vs. Ante Delija