The Professional Fighters League will stage its fourth Championship on Friday night at the Hulu Theater in New York City. The PFL is a mixed martial arts organization that was established in 2018.
The PFL is different from other MMA promotions because they use a regular season and playoff system to determine its champion. The PFL crowns a champion in each of its six divisions, with the winners earning $1 million. The PFL consists of 10 weeks.
The 2022 championship card will have 12 fights, including one amateur bout. The women’s lightweight match between Kayla Harrison and Larissa Pacheco highlights the main card. The following are my best bets for the night which will be streamed on ESPN+ starting with the preliminaries at 5:30 p.m. (ET) though fans will have to pay to watch the main card, marking the first time the PFL has had a pay-per-view event.
Kayla Harrison vs. Larissa Pacheco, Women’s Lightweight
Harrison (15-0) enters the SmartCage undefeated and seeks her third straight PFL championship. The former Judo gold medalist defeated Martina Jindrova via submission (arm triangle choke) in the semifinals. She has six victories by knockout and six by submission.
Pacheco (18-4) is competing for the PFL championship for the first time since losing to Harrison via unanimous decision in 2019. Pacheco, a former member of the UFC, is on a five-fight win streak, with all five victories coming via knockout. She earned a first-round technical knockout (punches) over Olena Kolesnyk in the semifinals.
This is the third fight between the competitors, with both previous bouts resulting in wins by unanimous decision for Harrison. I don’t expect the end result to be different this time. While Panchero is a strong puncher, Harrison is the superior fighter, and she has a massive advantage if the match goes to the ground.
There is no value in taking Harrison on the money line. Given that the other two matches between the combatants have gone the distance, the best bet is for the fight to go over 1 round.
Prediction: Harrison To Win (-750)
Best Bet: Fight to Go Over 1.5 Rounds (-190)
Other Bets: Fight To Start Round 3 (-120)
Harrison To Win by knockout/submission/ DQ (-165)
Harrison by submission (+225)
Ante Delija vs. Matheus Scheffel, Heavyweight
Similar to the Harrison-Panchero trilogy, Deliaja and Scheffel bout is a rematch. The two heavyweights squared off against each other earlier this season. Delija picked up the victory with an early second-round knockout.
Delija (22-5) is on a three-fight win streak and is 6-2 in the PFL. Both of his losses are to Bruno Cappelozza. The 32-year-old Croatian advanced to the finals with a late-first-round knockout of Renan Ferreira.
Scheffel (17-8), the No. 7 seed, is a surprise championship participant after picking up upset victories over Cappelozza in the first round of the playoffs and Juan Adams. The 30-year-old Buffa defeated No. 1 seed Cappelozza via unanimous decision before knocking out Adams late in the third round of the semifinals.
I like Delija to get revenge for his loss to Cappelozza in last year’s championship and win via finish as he is the better striker and grappler here. Sixteen of Delija’s victories have come before the final bell, while seven of Scheffel’s losses have been by finish.
Prediction: Delija To Win (-360)
Best Bet: Delija To Win by KO/Submission/DQ (-150)
Other Bets: Fight To Not Go Distance (-360)
Delija To Win and Over 1.5 Rounds (+110)
Julia Budd vs. Aspen Ladd, Women’s featherweight
Julia Budd (16-4) is a highly experienced fighter, and I like her pick an upset victory over Ladd. Ladd (9-3), making her PFL debut, is very talented but lost three of her last four bouts in the UFC. This is a non-championship bout.
Prediction/Best Bet: Budd To Win (+150)
Stevie Ray vs, Olivier Aubin Mercier. Lightweight
Prediction/Best Bet: Olivier Aubin Mercier To Win (-365)
Rob Wilkinson vs. Omari Akhmedov, Light Heavyweight
Prediction/Best Bet: Wilkinson To Win (-205)