Brendan Loughnane stole a march on the rest of the PFL featherweight division with a second-round leg-kick TKO of Marlon Moraes at PFL 1.
Loughnane, who captured the 2022 PFL featherweight title, faced off against former UFC bantamweight title challenger and ex-WSOF champion Moraes in the main event as the PFL’s 2023 season got underway in Las Vegas.
And, after watching the other 145-pound winners all claim their victories on the scorecards, Loughnane saw an opportunity to make an early statement to the rest of the division, and he duly delivered, using powerful leg kicks to finish Moraes early in the second round after punishing him with a plethora of kicks throughout the opening round.
Loughnane threw 18 leg kicks in all, and landed each and every one as he left Moraes down on the canvas and unable to continue 71 seconds into the second round. It looked unlikely Moraes would make it that far, with clear concern from the Brazilian’s corner over his ability to shake off the clear pain he was suffering after Loughnane’s first-round barrage.
But, after convincing the cageside doctor he was good to continue, Moraes emerged for Round 2 and engaged berserker mode as he charged after Loughnane, wildly throwing strikes in a last-ditch bid to turn the fight around and claim a dramatic knockout. However, Loughnane was ready for Moraes’ desperate approach and fought smartly off the back foot, before returning to his leg kicks to send Moraes to the mat and force referee Keith Peterson to step in and wave off the bout.
Loughnane’s win – the only featherweight finish of the night – put the Brit two points ahead of the featherweight field after the first round of matchups.
Elsewhere at featherweight, the grudge match between former 145-pound finalists Chris Wade and Bubba Jenkins ended with victory for the latter, as “Bad Man” dominated long spells of their matchup to claim the victory, and the bragging rights, while denting the playoff prospects of his rival.
Jenkins leaned heavily on his wrestling as he forced Wade onto the back foot throughout all three rounds of the fight. The only respite for Wade came through two supposed fouls called by referee Chris Tognioni. But, on both occasions, the incidents were shown by replay review to be legal strikes and the action resumed with no sanction.
Jenkins’ relentless pressure proved to be too much for Wade, who had no answer as the bout went to the scorecards. All three judges ruled it a shutout win for Jenkins, with scores of 30-27 across the board.
Also at 145 pounds, 2021 champion Movlid Khaybulaev got his season off to a winning start with a dominant decision win over Japanese fighter Ryoji Kudo, while Alejandro Flores and Gabriel Braga both picked up wins on the scorecards, with victories via unanimous and split decision, respectively.
In the light heavyweight division, there were outstanding performances on the preliminary card from Marthin Hamlet and Josh Silveira, who both claimed first-round submission finishes to claim maximum points in their respective regular season bouts.
Silveira finished Sam Kei in two minutes 46 seconds via rear-naked choke, but his performance was eclipsed by Hamlet, who needed just 65 seconds to force the tap from Mohammad Fakhreddin, thanks to a nasty face crank.
The featured 205-pound bout of the night saw 2022 champion Rob Wilkinson outpoint debuting former UFC title challenger Thiago Santos after three grueling rounds.
Wilkinson repeatedly punched his way into clinches and takedown attempts as he effectively nullified much of Santos’ power striking through the first two rounds. Santos had more success with his strikes in the final frame, but ultimately it wasn’t enough to get him a win on his PFL debut as last season’s champion ran out the winner on the scorecards, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28.
The night’s other light heavyweight regular season bouts saw Will Fleury and Ty Flores pick up decision victories after closely-contested matchups.
Fleury edged a split decision verdict over Poland’s Krzysztof Jotko, while Flores got the nod over Delan Monte via unanimous decision.
PFL 1: Official results
- Brendan Loughnane def. Marlon Moraes via TKO (leg kick) – Round 2, 1:11 – featherweight
- Rob Wilkinson def. Thiago Santos via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) – light heavyweight
- Will Fleury def. Krzysztof Jotko via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28) – light heavyweight
- Movlid Khaybulaev def. Ryoji Kudo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) – featherweight
- Bubba Jenkins def. Chris Wade via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) – featherweight
- Marthin Hamlet def. Mohammad Fakhreddine via submission (face crank) – Round 1, 1:05 – light heavyweight
- Josh Silveira def. Sam Kei via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:46 – light heavyweight
- Alejandro Flores def. Daniel Torres via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) – featherweight
- Gabriel Braga def. Jesus Pinedo via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) – featherweight
- Ty Flores def. Delan Monte via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27) – light heavyweight
- Impa Kasanganay def. Cory Hendricks via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27) – light heavyweight showcase bout
PFL Regular Season standings
- Brendan Loughnane – 5
- Bubba Jenkins – 3
- Movlid Khaybulaev – 3
- Alejandro Flores – 3
- Gabriel Braga – 3
- Jesus Pinedo – 0
- Daniel Torres – 0
- Ryoji Kudo – 0
- Chris Wade – 0
- Marlon Moraes – 0
MEN’S LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
- Marthin Hamlet – 6
- Josh Silveira – 6
- Ty Flores – 3
- Rob Wilkinson – 3
- Will Fleury – 3
- Krzysztof Jotko – 0
- Thiago Santo – 0
- Delan Monte – 0
- Sam Kei – 0
- Mohammad Fakhreddine – 0