The second leg of the PFL 2021 regular season is upon us and there’s lots to look forward to including the MMA debut of two-time Olympic women’s boxing gold medalist, Claressa Shields. She is set to headline this Thursday, June 10th, on the main card on ESPN+ and ESPN 2. On top of Shields’ highly anticipated debut, the main card and prelims are filled with fighters who have potential to win the tournament in their respective weight classes, such as Clay Collard, Bubba Jenkins, and Movlid Khaybulaev. Anthony Pettis was originally scheduled to fight on this card but unfortunately fell ill and will compete soon later this season. Needless to say, this card is filled with great fights so let’s break them down.
Claressa Shields vs Brittney Elkin
As mentioned before, Claressa Shields will be making her MMA debut in the main event. The question many fans ask whenever a prolific striker crosses over to MMA is how they will handle grappling exchanges. It’s a strong possibility this question will be answered Thursday as Claressa’s opponent -Brittney Elkin- is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has competed in several grappling events recently. That being said, Elkin has not had the most success in her professional career as a mixed martial artist, as she has a record of 3 wins and 6 losses. She could still be a serious threat to Shields’ if the fight ends up on the ground, but she is definitely outclassed on the feet. Few women in combat sports have the striking credentials that Claressa has, and I couldn’t be more excited to see her in the cage and Thursday night will definitely be one for the books
My Pick: Claressa Shields via Decision
Clay Collard vs Joilton Lutterbach
The co-main event will feature a lightweight bout between Clay Collard and Joilton Lutterbach. Clay Collard spoiled the debut of the former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis in which he displayed excellent boxing and a durable chin. After this performance it’s hard to deny that he could win this tournament if he performs like he did at PFL 1. His opponent, Joilton Lutterbach is a veteran of the sport with over 40 professional fights in his career. While Lutterbach lost his first fight of the 2021 season, it was a close fight and he lost via split decision. Joilton is a skilled fighter in all aspects of the game with plenty of decision, submission, and knockout victories. I think Collard’s time away from the sport in 2020 was a great career choice for him as his striking improved exponentially and is easily his best tool now. I think Collard will be able to win this fight and continue to perform in the 2021 season.
My Pick: Clay Collard via TKO
Bubba Jenkins vs Bobby Moffett
Next up is a fight in the welterweight division between the prestigious wrestler Bubba Jenkins and former UFC fighter Bobby Moffett. Jenkins defeated his longtime rival and 2019 PFL champion, Lance Palmer, in a dominating performance that let everyone know he is a threat in the welterweight division. Bobby Moffett lost a split decision fight in his PFL debut against Enrique Barzola and is looking to get back on track with a victory on Thursday night. Jenkins had the performance of his career in April and if he obtains another victory in this season, he could be the future champion. Moffett could prove to be a challenge for Jenkins, however, as he is a skilled grappler with the majority of his victories coming by way of submission. If Jenkins plans on using his wrestling against Moffett, he will have to be wary of that or else he could find himself in a compromising position. If Bubba can perform like he did earlier in the year than I think he is likely to secure another victory.
My Pick: Bubba Jenkins via Decision
Brendan Loughnane vs Tyler Diamond
The first fight on the main card is an incredible fight between two young featherweight prospects in Brendan Loughnane and Tyler Diamond. Both fighters won their first fights in the 2021 PFL season and are facing a challenge in their next opponent. Loughnane is currently riding a six-fight win streak and in his last fight he quickly put away his opponent in the first round. Tyler Diamond is on a three-fight winning streak with his last loss coming from his time in the Ultimate Fighter season 27 against Bryce Mitchell. It’s easy to see that both of these fighters have lots of potential and that’s why I’m so excited for this fight. I expect it to be a striking battle mainly with lots of power punches thrown, so whatever you do, don’t miss this one.
My Pick: Brendan Loughnane via TKO
Natan Shulte vs Alex Martinez
The feature prelim will showcase the 2019 PFL lightweight champion Natan Shulte and PFL 2021 newcomer Alex Martinez. Shulte is an excellent mixed martial artist who put on several incredible performances in 2019 and while he fell short in his first fight of the year, he could be right back in contention with a strong performance on Thursday. Alex Martinez surprised many in April when he defeated the runner up of the 2019 season in a close fight where he edged out the split decision. He is also a solid well-rounded fighter with several knockouts and submissions victories in his career and I expect him to show up and compete with Shulte on Thursday. I think that Shulte has the advantage in this fight with the experience he has accrued over the years against strong competition, and I expect that he learned from his previous loss.
My Pick: Natan Shulte via Decision
Marcin Held vs Olivier Aubin-Mercier
My Pick: Marcin Held via Decision
Akhmed Aliev vs Loik Radzhabov
My Pick: Akhmed Aliev via TKO
Sheymon Moraes vs Jesse Stim
My Pick: Jesse Stim via Decision
Chris Wade vs Arman Ospanov
My Pick: Chris Wade via Decision
Thanks for reading!