Italian bantamweight contender Francesco Nuzzi produced a moment of magic at PFL Europe 2 to knock out Farbod Iran Nezhad and surge into the PFL Europe Playoffs in spectacular style.
Competing in the main event, Nuzzi delivered a picture-perfect head-kick to knock out Nezhad in half a round and score the biggest finish of the night at the Verti Music Hall in Berlin, Germany.
The knockout itself was beautifully crafted, with Nuzzi throwing a long left hand to force Nezhad to engage and dip out of the way. But, as the German fighter looked to bob his head away from the punch, Nuzzi followed up with a huge left high kick that connected flush to score a highlight-reel knockout and send the Italian into the bantamweight semi-finals with significant momentum.
He’ll face Ireland’s Frans Mlambo, who claimed a majority decision victory over replacement opponent Rachid Haz after the Spanish fighter stepped in to replace former Cage Warriors champion Dominique Wooding, who withdrew from the event.
Haz started the better of the pair, but Mlambo came back strongly and rocked his man in Rounds 2 and 3 to establish his dominance in the last 10 minutes of the fight. Those moments, plus the point deduction handed to Haz for missing weight at Friday’s weigh-ins, ensured that Mlambo punched his ticket to the bantamweight semi-finals.
Taleb and Kakhorov book bantamweight semi-final clash
Undefeated Swedish bantamweight contender Ali Taleb blasted his way into the 135-pound semis with a first-round finish of Kenji Bortoluzzi.
Taleb came out aggressively from the start, but it was Taleb who hit the jackpot with a beautiful short left hook that dropped Bortoluzzi to the canvas. Taleb then swarmed his man and landed a couple of heavy ground strikes to make absolutely sure as he surged into the bantamweight final four with style points.
Taleb will take on Khurshed Kakhorov, who outbattled Moktar Benkaci over three rounds in the night’s co-main event bout.
After Benkaci started the stronger of the pair, Kakhorov put his man in big trouble mid-way through the first round as he connected flush with a beautifully-timed punch that had put the Frenchman on wobbly legs. But Benkaci did well to stay out of trouble and eventually recovered well enough to make it to the end of the round.
The action continued at a breathless pace through Rounds 2 and 3 as the pair traded shots through the full duration of the bout. But, in the final reckoning, it was Kakhorov’s better work in the stand-up exchanges that edged it in his favor.
Tuke and Kaszuba book semi-final clash with impressive wins
In one of the most eagerly-anticipated bouts of the card, Connor Hughes solved the puzzle of Dylan Tuke to earn a crucial victory to move into the lightweight semi-finals in Paris.
Tuke spent much of the bout on the outskirts of the cage, forcing Hughes to step into range to land his shots, with the Irishman looking to clip the Englishman on the way in.
Tuke’s unorthodox movement frustrated Hughes through the first round and half of the second round before the Irish contender took the action to the mat in Rounds 2 and 3 in search of a submission. Hughes did well to nullify Tuke on the mat and take the bout to the scorecards, but there was no debate about the winner, with Tuke taking the win on the scorecards with scores of 29-28 across the board.
Tuke will take on undefeated Polish contender Jakub Kaszuba, who utilized his ground game to excellent effect to take the back of Radu Maxim and lock up a rear-naked choke mid-way through the opening round of their lightweight matchup.
Chizov scrapes through to face Mitchell
The second lightweight semi-final was also decided in Berlin, with Latvia’s Aleksandr Chizov narrowly qualifying for the final four by the slimmest of margins.
Technically, he lost his bout to Spanish contender Acoidan Duque, with all three judges scoring the fight two rounds to one in Duque’s favor. But, due to Duque missing weight at Friday’s official weigh-ins, the Spaniard went into the bout with a one-point deduction.
It meant that the bout was officially scored as a unanimous draw, but Chizov progressed through to the semis, with Duque’s point deduction acting as the tiebreaker.
Chizov will take on Ireland’s John Mitchell, who defeated French contender Geysim Derouiche via unanimous decision after their lightweight bout went all the way to the scorecards.
Flyweight Eeckhout claims final semi-final spot
Belgian flyweight contender Greit Eeckhout made her experience advantage count as she ground out a unanimous decision victory over teenage opponent Lorena Cubero to claim the final semi-final spot in the women’s 125-pound playoffs.
Eeckhout used her ground-fighting superiority to control the former kickboxer, who struggled to work her way out of bottom position during the bout. And, with “Painapple” dishing out plenty of punishment to Cubero in the form of hammerfists and ground and pound, the judges had no problem scoring the fight as Eeckhout ran out the comfortable winner on the scorecards.
Eekhout moves on to the semi-finals, where she will meet Italy’s Valentina Scatizzi for a place in the final.
PFL Europe 2: Official results
- Francesco Nuzzi def. Farbod Iran Nezhad via knockout (head kick) – Round 1, 1:52 – bantamweight season
- Khurshed Kakhorov def. Moktar Benkaci via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-25*)
- Griet Eeckhout def. Lorena Cubero via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-25)
- Frans Mlambo def. Rachid Haz via majority decision (29-27, 29-27, 28-28**)
- Ali Taleb def. Kenji Bortoluzzi via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 3:26
- John Mitchell def. Geysim Derouiche via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Aleksandr Chizov vs. Acoidan Duque scored a unanimous draw (28-28, 28-28, 28-28***)
- Lewis McGrillen def. Amrali Saydoshurov via knockout (punch) – Round 2, 0:12 – showcase bout
- Dylan Tuke def. Connor Hughes via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Jakub Kaszuba def. Maxim Radu via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 3:18
- Anatolij Baal def. Sebas Santana Guedes via TKO (ground strikes) – Round 2, 4:16 – showcase bout
- Christina Breuer def. Ruby Mesu via TKO (punches and knees) – Round 2, 3:12 – showcase bout
*Moktar Benkaci deducted one point from his scorecard after missing weight
**Rachid Haz deducted one point from his scorecard after missing weight
***Duque deducted one point for missing weight, Chizov progresses to playoffs on a tie-breaker due to Duque missing weight
PFL Europe Playoffs: Confirmed semi-final matchups
- Dakota Ditcheva vs. Malin Hermansson
- Griet Eeckhout vs. Valentina Scatizzi
- Frans Mlambo vs. Francesco Nuzzi
- Ali Taleb vs. Khurshed Kakhorov
- Dylan Tuke vs. Jakub Kaszuba
- Aleksandr Chizov vs. John Mitchell
- Simeon Powell vs. Abdellah Er-Ramy
- Jakob Nedoh vs. Anthony Salamone