PFL 3: Breaking down the opening night for Kayla Harrison, Ray Cooper, Anthony Pettis and more


The third and remaining opening evening of the PFL 2022 season is right here, and the principle card options a few of largest stars within the league.

Kayla Harrison and the ladies’s light-weight division step into the cage on Friday (6 p.m. ET on ESPN+). Harrison, who re-signed with the PFL in the offseason, principal occasions the struggle evening and hopes to be on her strategy to securing a 3rd straight $1 million-dollar test in 2022. Nevertheless, a brand new competitor has joined Harrison’s division, which will certainly add to the drama. Julia Budd is a former Bellator featherweight champion who boasts a 16-3 document with the losses coming in opposition to three very acquainted names: Cris Cyborg, Amanda Nunes and Ronda Rousey. Budd opens up her season in opposition to PFL veteran Genah Fabian.

For 2 different MMA standouts, redemption is the aim. Welterweight Rory MacDonald and light-weight Anthony Pettis failed to succeed in expectations in 2021 and the stress will likely be on to dwell as much as the hype in 2022. Defending welterweight champion Ray Cooper III and Magomed Magomedkerimov confronted off for PFL gold final season and are among the many favorites to get again to the finals once more this 12 months. Their journeys to that second begins this week.

ESPN betting analyst Ian Parker breaks down every struggle.

Kayla Harrison vs Marina Mokhnatkina

The queen has returned to her kingdom. Harrison, having fun with the advantages of her new contract, will look to proceed the place she left off. On opening evening, it actually would not come right down to if Kayla goes to win, it’s extra about how. I’ve nothing in opposition to the ability and toughness of Mokhnatkina, who does personal prior wins in Bellator and the PFL, however Harrison is only a totally different degree of athlete and she or he continues to indicate it.

I count on this struggle to finish in typical Harrison trend: inside Spherical 1 by both submission or TKO.

Prediction: Harrison by TKO.

Ray Cooper III vs Carlos Leal

Reigning champion Cooper will likely be in search of a repeat efficiency as he welcomes Challenger Collection and LFA vet Leal to the PFL. After preventing two occasions in three months on the PFL Challenger Collection, Leal didn’t earn the contract, however discovered a means into the league as a late substitute.

Leal is a tricky fighter, however taking up Cooper in his first struggle of the season is an uphill battle I don’t consider he’ll be capable to climb. Cooper would be the higher striker, and if want be he can use his wrestling background if the struggle will get just a little messy.

Cooper is the favourite to win the league once more and all begins with getting the win on Friday.

Prediction: Cooper inside the gap.

Anthony Pettis vs Myles Price

“Showtime” Pettis returns in 2022 in hopes to proper the improper from final season. After falling brief in opposition to Clay Collard and Raush Manfio in his two common season matchups, Pettis seems to be to be in unbelievable form heading into his first struggle.

His opponent hasn’t precisely been energetic. This will likely be Value’s first struggle in three years, and drawing Pettis as his first opponent is a tall job. Pettis would be the higher fighter wherever the struggle goes and so long as he would not discover himself in a brawl like sequence, his exact hanging and footwork ought to be capable to get him his first victory within the PFL.

Prediction: Pettis.

Brett Cooper vs Rory MacDonald

After falling brief by the hands of season 2 winner Ray Cooper, the “Pink King” will search for redemption as he takes on Brett Cooper. Cooper is an skilled fighter, and is a tricky matchup for anybody that steps within the cage. He carries a ton of energy, has good takedown protection and has an excellent chin.

MacDonald wants to regulate the tempo and the narrative of the struggle. He cannot permit Cooper to show this right into a slug fest. I count on Rory to make use of his hanging to arrange his takedowns and management Cooper on the bottom for almost all of the struggle.

Prediction: MacDonald.

Magomed Magomedkerimov vs. Joao Zeferino

Zeferino probably drew the worst stylistic matchup for him within the first struggle of the common season. Magomedkerimov is simply so good all over the place, and infrequently makes errors. For Zeferino to win, he must land a Ray Cooper kind of punch.

Magomedkerimov goes to regulate this struggle wherever it goes. After what occurred final season, a stunning loss within the finals, I consider Magomedkerimov has realized his lesson and can now not permit a repeat of the Hail Mary punch that Cooper landed after profitable in each facet of the struggle till that time.

Magomedkerimov will get it completed right here.

Prediction: Magomedkerimov.

Julia Budd vs Genah Fabian

Julia Budd will get an opportunity to indicate the world that she continues to be the one who will give Harrison her largest problem. Nevertheless, to ensure that her to even get to that time, she has to get via the very proficient striker in Fabian.

Whereas Budd underperformed in her final struggle, Fabian continued to get higher all through final season till operating into Harrison — which isn’t a shock. For Budd, she has to get this struggle to the bottom or she goes to get picked aside by Fabian on the toes.

As I have a look at the betting worth for this bout, I’m going to take a flier right here on Fabian. I feel Budd’s finest days are behind her.

Prediction: Fabian.

Larissa Pacheco vs Zamzagul Fayzallanova

Pacheco, the one ladies to go all three rounds with Harrison, will likely be trying to get one other crack on the champ. She’s the heavy favourite on this struggle and rightfully so. I am unable to see this struggle getting in a wide range of methods. Search for Pacheco to win this struggle early by TKO.

Prediction: Pacheco by TKO.

Jarrah Al-Silawi vs Gleison Tibau

PFL Challenger Collection contract winner Jarrah Al-Silawi will likely be trying to make an influence within the league as he takes on seasoned veteran Tibau. It is a nice matchup for Al-Silawi as Tibau, though very robust, could be very predictable. Al-SIlawi’s velocity and hanging will profit from that.

I do not assume Al-Silawi will be capable to end Tibau as not many have, however this will likely be an amazing win for him in his PFL debut.

Prediction: Al-Silawi.

Nikolay Aleksakhin vs Sadibou Sy

Sy and Aleksakhin will look to settle the rating in a rematch from final season that resulted in a no contest. This will likely be a enjoyable struggle between two very proficient strikers.

I like Aleksakhin on this bout as I consider he’ll be capable to shut the gap and get the higher of the hanging. If needed he can take the struggle to the bottom. If Sy cannot management the struggle from a distance, then he’ll fall brief on this struggle, however we have all seen simply how impactful his kicks will be.

Prediction: Aleksakhin.

Olena Kolesnyk vs Abigail Montes

In a betting perspective, this struggle for me is underdog or go. Montes gained a tricky struggle in opposition to Claressa Shields final season, however now she takes on somebody with extra expertise and who has fought increased degree competitors.

If Montes cannot put Kolesnyk on her again then she is going to lose on the toes. I’m going to take a flier right here on Kolesnyk because the underdog.

Montes shouldn’t be a 2-1 favourite right here and Kolesnyk can win this struggle if it stays on the toes.

Prediction: Kolesnyk.

Martina Jindrova vs Vanessa Melo

Jindrova will likely be making her PFL debut after profitable a contract on the Challenger Collection. She takes on UFC veteran Vanessa Melo in her first struggle of the season. I like Jindrova right here; I consider she is the higher striker and might placed on a tempo that may overwhelm Melo.

Melo went 1-3 in her run with the UFC along with her final struggle a call victory over Sarah Moras final January.

Prediction: Jindrova.

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