ATLANTA — There’s an unmistakable hype going on behind the scenes of the PFL right now.
This is a hype that has nothing to do with the most recognized and recognizable talent of the promotion. It doesn’t matter if it’s Kayla Harrison, Anthony Pettis, Rory McDonald or fan favorite Clay Collard. And that can be basically summed up in one question.
Dude, what happens when Bruno Cappelozza fights Renan Ferreira?
The heavyweight division comes to the fore on Friday as the regular season continues into PFL 5 at the Overtime Elite Arena (8 pm ET on Sportzshala and Sportzshala+, with preliminaries at 6 on Sportzshala+). And frankly, this unit is more than just two people. Croatian Ante Delia in particular deserves a lot of credit for his name as he put Cappelozza on the brink of defeat in the 2021 final and is gearing up for another strong start in 2022.
But a potential matchup between 2021 champion Cappelozza (15-5), who will face Matheus Scheffel on Friday, and Ferreira (9-2), who will face Klidson Abreu, is simply mind-boggling. Even among storylines involving big names like Harrison, Pettis and McDonald, this potential playoff heavyweight bout that follows these second regular season bouts could be the most intriguing PFL event of the year.
“Bruno and Renan still have some work to do to secure their playoff spots, but I can’t wait for these guys to fight in one of the best heavyweight fights of the year, if all goes well,” he said. PFL President Ray Sefo. “Anyway, I’m sure this is a fight we’ll see sooner or later.”
At the moment, Ferreira leads the heavyweight standings with 6 points. Cappelozza also has 6 points but is slightly behind as his first-round knockout in April was not as quick as Ferreira’s. While neither of them have secured a playoff berth, they can earn their place in PFL 5.
The reason this matchup is going to be so intriguing starts with Cappelozza, 33, who has knocked out four of the five opponents he has faced since joining the PFL in 2021. Hailing from São Paulo, Brazil, Cappelozza has emulated the style of another player of all time. the great Brazilian heavyweight, former UFC champion Junior dos Santos, with whom he briefly trained in 2015.
“Bruno is known for his fast hands, but what I remember most about our sparring sessions was his kick,” Dos Santos told Sportzshala. “He puts a lot of pressure and his hands are very fast, but when he kicked me I said to myself, ‘Oh, I don’t want to get hit again.’ I knew that eventually he would achieve great success in this sport.”
Cappelozza is an athlete plus, and any comparison to dos Santos usually starts with hand speed. He started karate at the age of 7 and his parents supported his transition to MMA.
His story is quite different from that of Ferreira, who grew up in poverty in the Brazilian agricultural town of Porangato. Ferreira is 6 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 260 pounds. He has bizarre athleticism, as seen when he celebrated his latest victory in April by performing a one-leg forward flip inside the cage.
Ferreira didn’t even start martial arts until 2013, when a social project in his city allowed him to take Brazilian jiu-jitsu for free.
“When I was young, I played basketball and ran track and field, but it was only a social project in my hometown that led me to jiu-jitsu,” Ferreira said. “The choice in favor of MMA was mainly about opportunity. Sports in Brazil in general don’t have a lot of support, so when you see an area where there is support, you want to take advantage of it.
“MMA was a faster way to become someone than trying to get into a basketball club in Brazil. It would require my own finances to go after me, not someone to support me.”
Ferreira has basically been a phenomenon since the beginning. He only started fighting regularly in 2016, but quickly earned a reputation as a puncher. His last two fights ended after 31 and 25 seconds. Five of his nine pro victories come by knockout in the first round.
“I feel like there’s definitely a shock factor during a fight with me and it comes from two sides,” Ferreira said. “One of them is my size and physical shape, but it is also the results that I have achieved.”
In MMA, some athletes stand out to the naked eye, and as the second round of the PFL regular season continues, Cappelozza and Ferreira may be the best examples of this in the entire promotion. Both say they don’t look too far ahead, while at the same time, each admits that he appreciated the other. They do not turn a blind eye to the fact that this battle seems inevitable.
What happens when these two fight? It’s too early to ask… but that doesn’t stop anyone in Atlanta from doing it.
“The thing is, Bruno is very fast for a heavyweight,” Sefo said. “His punches are heavy and accurate and if you can’t support him, he will knock you out. Renan is the epitome of physicality, and with his height and build, he can deliver powerful strikes when his opponents are far out of range. Both are capable of hurting any heavyweight in the world and I believe they will continue to improve and show that they are one of the best heavyweights competing today.”