Cedric Doumbe told everyone who’d listen during fight week that he was going to put opponent Jordan Zebo to sleep, and the man known as “The Best” delivered on his promise in the most spectacular way possible.
His main event bout with Zebo at the PFL Europe Playoffs in Paris pitted two 4-0 French prospects head to head, but all eyes were on former two-time Glory kickboxing world champion Doumbe, who had dominated the lead-up to the event with his playful trash talk and gentle ribbing of his opponent.
Doumbe gifted Zebo a pillow at the weigh-ins, then entered the arena carrying a mattress emblazoned with the slogan, “Bonne Nuit, Jordan” (good night, Jordan).
When the fight eventually started, it was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it outcome. Zebo attempted a head kick, and Doumbe caught it, replied with a kick of his own, then unleashed a lightning two-punch combination, with the first punch instantly knocking out Zebo, and the second only helping him on his way down the canvas.
Referee Marc Goddard sharply dived in to spare the unconscious Zebo any unnecessary punishment as the Zenith exploded in shock and amazement. Even Paris Saint-Germain striker and global football icon Kylian Mbappe, who had jetted in with teammates Achraf Hakimi and Ousmane Dembele for the fight, was left open-mouthed in amazement as Doumbe claimed his stunning PFL debut win in just nine seconds.
“The Lazy King” submits “The Crazy Kid” to make impressive PFL debut
The co-main event saw the eagerly-anticipated PFL Europe debut of “The Lazy King” Abdoul Abdouraguimov, who showcased his elite-level ground game with an eye-catching first-round submission finish of English MMA veteran Brad “The Crazy Kid” Wheeler.
Wheeler started well and connected with two big right hands as he grabbed Abdouraguimov’s attention early. But “The Lazy King” soon settled into his game and a well-executed takedown sparked the beginning of the end as he chained together a succession of submission attempts, each one looking closer to a finish, before he finally locked up a rear-naked choke to force Wheeler to tap at the 2:43 mark of the first round.
After the fight, Abdouraguimov revealed that he will be joining the PFL’s global roster in 2024, where he’ll drop to 155 pounds to compete in the PFL’s $1 million lightweight championship season.
Nedoh explodes, Powell cruises as light heavyweight final is set
The PFL Europe light heavyweight final looks set to be an explosive affair as the division’s top two strikers made their way to the Dublin final.
Slovakia’s Jakub Nedoh blasted his way into the final with his latest display of punch power as he dismantled French contender Anthony Salamone in just 95 seconds to make a huge statement ahead of the season finale.
He’ll face England’s Simeon Powell, who barely got out of first gear as he cruised to a unanimous decision victory over late replacement opponent Daniel Ladero and booked his place in the light heavyweight final in Dublin.
Powell made decent use of his reach advantage as he scored with long jabs and leg kicks, but he appeared to be fighting within himself as he admitted post-fight that he “played safe” during the bout by keeping it at range and scoring with occasional shots.
The bout didn’t enthrall the Paris crowd, who booed the fighters at the end of a lackluster affair, but Powell won’t be concerned with the fan reaction, as he moves on to the 205-pound final.
Ditcheva folds up Holm with crushing body shot
Ditcheva quickly found a home for her strikes, but after tasting some of the English contender’s punches, Holm wasted no time in closing the distance as she embarked on a round-long attempt to get Ditcheva to the mat. Ditcheva bounced straight back up from Holm’s first takedown, then defended well against the fence to nullify the Swede’s grappling threat.
The second round saw Ditcheva land with power, with a big left hand drawing gasps from the Paris crowd. Ditcheva appeared a step ahead of Holm, who looked slower and more fatigued, with Ditcheva finding it easier to stuff her opponent’s takedown attempts. She even took Holm to the mat and took her opponent’s back.
After a grueling first two rounds, both fighters emerged from their corners looking to make a statement in the final round, but it was Ditcheva who looked the fresher, more composed fighter. She pot-shotted Holm from range with sharp, straight punches and a steady diet of kicks to Holm’s lead leg. Then, mid-way through the final frame, Ditcheva unleashed a rapid two-punch combination as she landed a huge straight left to the body, then went upstairs with a right hand to the chin. The body shot did the damage, however, as Holm immediately folded up and fell to the mat in agony as the referee waved off the fight.
Ditcheva’s impressive finish propelled her into the women’s flyweight final, where she’ll face Italy’s Valentina Scatizzi, who earned a walkover win after her opponent failed to make weight for their bout.
Kakhorov and Mlambo progress to bantamweight final
Former training partners Germany’s Khurshed Kakhorov and Ireland’s Frans Mlambo will face off in the bantamweight final in Dublin after both men claimed decision wins to earn their spots in the final.
First up, Mlambo battled to the scorecards with replacement semi-finalist Mokhtar Benkaci in a bout that split the judges. Mlambo started fast and dominated the opening round, but Rounds 2 and 3 were much more closely contested. And, while one judge scored the fight 29-28 to Benkaci, Mlambo was deemed to have done just enough to earn 29-28 scores from the other two judges as he punched his ticket to a hometown final.
He’ll take on Kakhorov, who weathered an early storm before handing hard-hitting Ali Taleb the first defeat of his career in the second 135-pound semi-final.
Taleb started fast and landed big shots on Kakhorov, who appeared to be hurt early. The Swede then opted to switch his attack from strikes to submissions as he jumped into a guillotine choke, but that tactical switch worked against him as Kakhorov both survived the choke, and recovered from the initial striking onslaught.
After coping with the best of Taleb’s offense in Round 1, Kakhorov unleashed his own arsenal in Round 2 as he hammered Taleb’s lead leg with kicks, and had his man badly hurt with punches as he threatened to claim a finish of his own. Such was Kakhorov’s dominance, the PFL commentary team of Sean O’Connell, Dan Hardy and Stefan Struve wondered aloud whether the round would earn scores of 10-8 from the three cageside judges.
It meant the fight was on a knife edge heading into the final round, and while Taleb swung for the fences in a bid to turn the fight in his favor, Kakhorov’s in-cage smarts proved too much for him as he took the action to the ground and dominated the mat exchanges to ride out the round and take the fight to the scorecards, where he was confirmed as the unanimous decision victor with scores of 29-28, 29-27, 29-27.
Kaszuba and Mitchell claim decision wins to earn lightweight final spots
The lightweight final will be contested between Poland’s Jakub Kaszuba and Ireland’s John Mitchell after both men claimed hard-earned unanimous decision victories in their respective semi-final matchups.
Mitchell booked his place in the Dublin finale with a shutout win on the scorecards as he held sway in each of the three rounds to earn scores of 30-27 on all three cards against French replacement opponent Geisym Derouiche, while Kaszuba proved just a shade ahead of Ireland’s Dylan Tuke after their three rounds of action.
The bout also saw the PFL Europe debut of English women’s strawweight Shanelle Dyer, who claimed a shutout decision victory over Colombia’s Luisa Cifuentes to improve her fledgling professional record to 3-0 with the first decision win of her career.
PFL Europe Playoffs: Official results
- Cedric Doumbe def. Jordan Zebo via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 0:09
- Abdoul Abdouraguimov def. Brad Wheeler via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:43
- Jakob Nedoh def. Anthony Salamone via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 1:35 – light heavyweight semi-final
- Simeon Powell def. Daniel Ladero via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) – light heavyweight semi-final
- Dakota Ditcheva def. Cornelia Holm via knockout (body shot) – Round 3, 2:55 – women’s flyweight semi-final
- Yazid Chouchane def. Henrique Madureira via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Laureano Staropoli def. Baba Nadjombe via TKO (corner stoppage) – Round 2, 5:00
- Khurshed Kakhorov def. Ali Taleb via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27) – bantamweight semi-final
- Frans Mlambo def. Mokhtar Benkaci via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) – bantamweight semi-final
- Jakub Kaszuba def. Dylan Tuke (29-28, 29-28, 30-27) via – lightweight semi-final
- John Mitchell def. Geisym Derouiche via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) – lightweight semi-final
- Shanelle Dyer def. Luisa Cifuentes via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)