The PFL Playoffs kick off this week, starting with the Light Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight semi-finals on Friday (Sportzshala and Sportzshala+, main card at 8:00 pm ET and preliminary matches at 6:00 pm).
The main event at the Hulu Theater in New York’s Madison Square Garden will be a rematch from just six weeks ago when former UFC champion Anthony Pettis takes on Stevie Ray. Ray took the pain out of their June meeting with a modified body lock. Even after the loss, Pettis makes the playoffs as the top seed in the lightweight division.
Also on Friday’s card, light heavyweight seed Robert Wilkinson will take on Delan Monte. Wilkinson has been impressive in two regular season fights and will look to keep that momentum going into the playoffs.
Seats in the $1 million finals are on the line, and this is how I see Friday’s fights playing out.
Lightweight: Anthony Pettis vs. Stevie Ray
After an upset win over Pettis at PFL 5 in June, Ray will be looking to repeat his performance in a rematch. Ray needs to fight on the mat if he wants back-to-back victories over the former UFC champion. But I don’t see it happening this time. In the first fight, Pettis looked fantastic in the first round as he was ahead of Ray by distance and had the lead throughout the fight. Look for Pettis to save the fight in order to win and advance to the final. Forecast: Pettis to win.
Light Heavyweight: Omari Akhmedov vs. Josh Silveira
In the battle of teammates, Silveira will have to defeat his American Top Team teammate Akhmedov in the first round of the playoffs. Akmedov finished off both of his last two opponents, with Silveira entering the match as a substitute. He knocked out Martin Hamlett in his last fight. Akmedov is explosive and strong physically, but as the years go by, we watch his cardio fade as fights move into the later rounds. I like Silveira here. He’s a more technical striker, a better fighter, and has the cardio to keep up the pace throughout all three rounds. Look for a Challenger series product to win and move on. Forecast: Silveira wins.
Lightweight: Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Alexander Martinez
Known for his wrestling, Aubin-Mercier has been using his punching and lateral moves lately to frustrate his opponents. However, if he doesn’t fight Martinez, he will be in a little bit of trouble. Martinez is an aggressive fighter. He constantly moves forward and has an infinite gas tank, which can create problems for Aubin-Mercier. I go with the loser here. Martinez showed incredible toughness in the fight with Clay Collard and almost finished him off. I also believe that his astounding performance could cause enough problems for Aubin-Mercier to take him out of the game plan. Forecast: Alex Martinez wins.
Light Heavyweight: Robert Wilkinson vs. Delan Monte
Wilkinson has looked great this season. After two dominant wins in the regular season, he gets a great first-round playoff matchup in style. Monte is a tough and aggressive striker, but he tends to leave himself open to strikes and doesn’t have a good ground game. Wilkinson, who will be the best striker, will have to avoid Monte’s strength and take the fight to the ground. From there, Wilkinson will likely be able to get an introduction. Forecast: Wilkinson to win at a distance.