Loughnane is eager to sweep his infamous appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2019, in which he won but didn’t close out the fight seeking a finish, into the footnotes of his career with a PFL championship victory. He has won both of his fights in the PFL regular season, opening with a quick knockout of UFC veteran Sheymon Moraes in April, and locked up the No. 1 seed.
The fourth-seeded Khaybulaev finished the regular season 2-0 as well, capping it off with a victory over Lance Palmer in June that eliminated the two-time PFL champion from playoff contention. The win made Khaybulaev 17-0-1 for his career.
The Loughnane-Khaybulaev clash headlines the last of three PFL semifinal cards at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida (Live on ESPN+; 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2/ESPN+), and also features another 145-pound semifinal as well as two light heavyweight semis on the main card.
At featherweight, No. 2 seed Chris Wade faces third-seeded Bubba Jenkins. The 205-pound semifinals pit top seed Antonio Carlos Jr. against 2019 PFL champion (and No. 4 seed) Emiliano Sordi, while No. 2 seed Cezar Ferreira faces No. 3 Marthin Hamlet.
Prior to the four playoff semifinals, there are six prelims featuring a mix of fighters from the 2021 season and some PFL newcomers.
Follow along throughout the night for instant analysis.
Coming up next: Featherweights: Anthony Dizy vs. Jesse Stirn
Ahead of his return to the cage on Friday, Knight had detoured to bare-knuckle fighting in recent years — but his game is submission fighting, with 15 of his 22 victories coming by tapout. Early on in this fight, he threatened to add to that total by clamping an inverted triangle on Moffett.
But Moffett has never been submitted, and his defense held strong. That was especially true at the start of Round 3, when Knight tried to take the fight to the canvas, and ended up being smothered by Moffett for most of the rest of the fight — and that ultimately decided the outcome.
All three judges scored the bout 29-28 in favor of Moffett, a 31-year-old from Homewood, Illinois.
It was a largely uneventful 15 minutes, and often that type of fight is decided by whatever big moments the judges can hang their scorecards on. In this case, though, while Flores had to overcome a pair of flash knockdowns, he was the busier fighter, and his movement dictated how the fight played out.
All three judges scored it 29-28, with two of them favoring the 30-year-old Flores, who is from Mexico and has won three in a row.
Deaton, who is 31 and from Michigan, but trains in Las Vegas, did floor Flores twice in Round 2, but did little else over the rest of the three-round fight but stalk his opponent as he lost his second fight in a row.
Nicknames in sports, mixed martial arts in particular, often are fueled by hyperbole. That is not the case with Jenkins, at least not on this night. The 29-year-old from Las Vegas lived up to his “Human Highlight Reel” nickname with a flying knee that flattened Kilburn at 2:56 of Round 1 in the opening fight on the card.
For Jenkins, who was making his PFL debut, it was the 12th stoppage in 14 career wins, and his sixth first-round finish.
Still to come:
ESPN2/ESPN+, 10 p.m. ET
Featherweights: Brendan Loughnane vs. Movlid Khaybulaev
Featherweights: Chris Wade vs. Bubba Jenkins
Light heavyweights: Antonio Carlos Jr. vs. Emiliano Sordi
Light heavyweights: Cezar Ferreira vs. Marthin Hamlet