August 18th has come and gone, with Larissa Pacheco and Renan Ferriera solidifying their spaces in the $1 Million Finals for their respective divisions. Similarly, Denis Goltsov and Marina Mokhnatkina found finishes to punch their tickets into the “Richest Night in MMA”.
PFL 9 takes place inside The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York on Wednesday night. The main card will go down on ESPN and ESPN+ at 9pm ET. The prelims will stream on ESPN+ starting at 6:30pm ET. Read about the three most intriguing storylines to watch before the final playoffs card of the 2023 season:
Collard vs. Burgos: Time For Change?
“Cassius” Clay Collard vs. “Hurricane” Shane Burgos is a matchup all fans have awaited since the signing of the former top-15 UFC featherweight to the PFL. Collard, notorious for his slick standup and boxing acumen, is the perfect dance partner to bring a fight of the night performance out of Burgos who has yet to really shine under the PFL banner. A loss in his debut to the 2022 PFL Champion Olivier Aubin-Mercier and a risk-free decision over Japan’s Yamato Nishikawa have left many begging for the action-packed “Hurricane” Shane to return.
Collard has been here in this position before, with several controversial decisions preventing “Cassius” from realizing the ultimate goal in the PFL. The expectation is him to push for a finish against one of the most high-profile assignments inside the PFL today. He’s bested Anthony Pettis, PFL finalist Stevie Ray, and Jeremy Stephens in a FOTY contender. We will see if he can add Burgos to the resume Wednesday night…
Magomedkerimov vs. Renfro: Veteran vs. Prospect
Solomon Renfro accepted a fight with Jarrah Hussein Al-Silawi on 6-days notice and toppled the taller man deep into round two to punch his ticket into the 2023 PFL Playoffs. Renfro has made waves for years with his performances in CFFC, LFA, and the lone Contender Series bout he had. Following his media day scrum, there is an energy about Renfro that can’t be put into words. A combination of the confidence and assuredness in his skills really lends to the X factor that “The Black Dragon” has amassed after 14 pro MMA bouts. He is heavily underestimated against the 2018 PFL Champion Magomed Magomedkerimov.
Renfro expects a stoppage victory, and Magomedkerimov said he’d leave Renfro, “sleeping on the canvas at the end of round one”. A firefight with high stakes between a grizzled veteran of the organization and a young prospect who’s taken the world by the horns for the last several years. If Solomon can put the former champion away and advance to the $1 Million Finals after stepping in late in the season on 6-days notice, he’d really live up to the name he’s built.
Biaggio Ali Walsh: Living Up To The Legacy
The amateur career of Muhammad Ali’s grandson continues in his second appearance inside Madison Square Garden. Having a heavily accoladed collegiate football career prior to entering the MMA realm, Biaggio will be competing in his fourth PFL bout since his signing in November 2022. Media savvy and clearly dedicated towards improving his martial arts skillset, Biaggo’s career being completely showcased in the public eye is fascinating to watch.
Rarely do amateurs get much mainstream attention, but with the PFL’s platforming, he’s been featured on ESPN, NBC, MMA Junkie and other huge outlets. The pressure on his shoulders, and how deftly he’s dealt with it, makes it incredibly hard to not root for him. Biaggio said there is a good chance he’ll turn Pro at some point in 2024, and with a win here, he’ll be riding a 5-fight win streak into his professional MMA career.
Which fight are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below.