A sold-out crowd will pack the Zenith Paris La Villette for the PFL Europe Playoffs, as the final four fighters in each weight class will pair off, then face off, with a place in the inaugural PFL Europe Finals on the line.
The finals for PFL Europe’s light heavyweight, lightweight, bantamweight, and women’s flyweight divisions will all be decided on a packed night of fights in the French capital. The event streams live globally on DAZN.
In addition, the event’s main event will see one of the nation’s most accomplished combat sportsmen, Cedric Doumbe, make his promotional debut as he puts his 4-0 record against that of fellow undefeated compatriot, Jordan Zebo, in a three-round welterweight matchup. The co-main event also features a French fan-favorite, as 16-1 former two-division Ares FC champion Abdoul “The Lazy King” Abdouraguimov makes his PFL Europe debut against UK MMA veteran Brad Wheeler in a 180-pound catchweight matchup.
The lineup for the event received some last-minute changes after drama at the official weigh-in session, with two fighters missing out on their chance at the finals, and one booking their place in Dublin by default.
The bulk of the card is occupied by the semi-final bouts from the inaugural PFL Europe, with the light heavyweight semis taking top billing of the group.
French contender Anthony Salamone will look to punch his ticket to the finals in Dublin when he faces Slovakia’s Jakob Nedoh, while England’s Simoeon Powell takes on Spanish substitute contender Daniel Ladero.
Salamone needed just two minutes, 19 seconds to finish Spain’s Ladero to earn his spot in the semi-finals, while Nedoh booked his place in the semis in even more emphatic fashion with a 48-second knockout of Italy’s Riccardo Nosiglia. Now the two proven finishers will go head to head looking to earn a place in the season finale in Ireland.
The other side of the bracket sees England’s Powell looking to continue his impressive form. “Smooth” is undefeated at 7-0, with an arm-triangle choke finish of Mohamed Amine earning him a place in the semi-finals in Paris. He’ll take on Ladero, who was the lucky beneficiary after Powell’s original semi-final opponent, Abdellah Er-Ramy, was forced off the card. Now Ladero, whose last win came back in 2019, has the opportunity to turn his career around in a major way by defeating Powell and surging into an unlikely final.
Women’s flyweight semi-finals
England’s Dakota Ditcheva has been something of a flag-bearer for PFL Europe in the UK since the inception of the promotion’s European arm, and the Manchester striker has been nothing short of emphatic in her PFL performances to date.
Ditcheva made two showcase appearances on the PFL’s global stage last year, and delivered a pair of back-to-back first-round knockouts at the PFL Playoffs and the PFL World Championships to mark her arrival as one of the promotion’s newest stars.
Ditcheva was a slam-dunk addition to the PFL Europe lineup, and her debut appearance at PFL Europe 1 showed that she’s more than just a striker as she finished Malin Hermansson via first-round rear-naked choke to notch the first submission victory of her career. Now the undefeated 8-0 contender takes on seasoned opposition in the form of Sweden’s Cornelia Holm.
While Holm has only three more fights on her record than Ditcheva, the Swedish flyweight has competed for a host of notable promotions , having fought for Cage Warriors, Oktagon and UAE Warriors before eventually signing for PFL Europe last year. Her debut saw her earn a split-decision victory over Marta Waliczek to reach the 125-pound semi-finals, where she’ll be looking to drag Ditcheva into deep waters in a bid to become the first fighter to defeat the English ace.
The night’s other flyweight semi-final will take place earlier in the card, where Italy’s Valentina Scatizzi was due to face replacement opponent Manuela Marconetto.
Scatizzi was originally set to face Belgian contender Griet Eeckhout. But after “Painapple” was forced off the card, Scatizzi’s compatriot Manuela Marconetto agreed to step in, with the 4-4 former Cage Warriors Academy South East amateur champion looking to pick up the biggest win of her career.
However, Marconetto failed to make weight for the bout, meaning that Scatizzi was handed a walkover victory and is now confirmed in the women’s flyweight final in Dublin in December.
In addition to the two semi-finals, the card also features the promotional debut of England’s women’s flyweight newcomer and former amateur champion Shanelle Dyer.
Dyer is 2-0 as a professional, and already has a pair of highlight-reel knockouts to her name. Now she’ll look to make a statement inside the PFL Europe SmartCage when she debuts against Colombia’s Luisa Fernanda Cifuentes.
PFL Europe’s bantamweight division has offered arguably the most talent-stacked lineup of contenders this season, and the final four lineup looks set to deliver a pair of high-octane matchups.
Undefeated Swedish contender Ali Taleb always brings the intensity, and he’ll do exactly that when he faces off against German veteran Khurshed Kakhorov in the night’s second semi-final.
Former UAE Warriors champion Taleb is perfect at 9-0, and he booked his spot in Paris with a huge left-hook knockout of Kenji Bortoluzzi in Berlin at PFL Europe 2.
He’ll take on 10-1 contender Kakhorov, whose only defeat came against Wales’ Brett Johns under the Bellator banner in 2022. That loss aside, Kakhorov has been a dominant force at 135 pounds, and he continued that trend with a unanimous decision win over France’s Mokhtar Benkaci. Now he faces Taleb for a place in the final, and the bout might offer arguably the highest-level matchup of the night in Paris.
The other side of the bantamweight bracket sees Ireland’s Frans Mlambo take on French replacement opponent Benkaci, who was handed a second shot at glory following his loss to Kakhorov in Berlin. Benkaci replaces Italian Francesco Nuzzi, who failed his pre-fight medical examination ahead of the event.
Born in South Africa and fighting out of Dublin’s acclaimed Straight Blast Gym, Mlambo is no stranger to the big stage having competed under the Brave CF and Bellator banners in his 19-fight pro career.
Now riding a six-fight win streak, and having lost just one of his last 10 outings, Mlambo arrives in Paris in fine form, and will be looking to make it seven in a row when he looks to earn himself a spot in the finals, which will take place in his adopted home of Dublin.
Finally, the 155-pound division offers plenty of intrigue as the final four get set for battle in Paris.
Ireland’s Dylan “The Nuke” Tuke earned his spot in the final four with a unanimous decision win over Connor Hughes in Berlin, and now he’ll look to mark the occasion of his 10th pro fight by earning a place in the lightweight final.
He’ll take on Polish contender Jakub Kaszuba, who registered his fourth straight win – and his third straight finish – with a first-round rear-naked choke of Maxim Radu in Berlin.
The night’s other lightweight semi will see 7-1 Irish contender John Mitchell take on familiar opposition in the form of Geisym Derouiche.
Mitchell outpointed Derouiche to reach the semi-finals in Paris and was all set to face Austrian Alex Chizov, who earned his spot in the semis on a technicality after losing his opening-round bout with Acoidan Duque at PFL Europe 2. Duque missing weight for that bout proved crucial in the final reckoning as the bout was officially ruled a draw, with Chizov advancing.
However, after Chizov failed to make weight at Friday’s official weigh-ins, alternate fighter Derouiche was drafted back into the fray. He duly made weight, and now faces Mitchell in an immediate rematch with a place in the lightweight final on the line.
PFL Europe Playoffs: Fight card and weigh-in results
- Cedric Doumbe (169.9) vs. Jordan Zebo (170.8)
- Abdoul Abdouraguimov (178.5) vs. Brad Wheeler (180.7) – 180-pound catchweight bout
- Anthony Salamone (206) vs. Jakob Nedoh (206) – light heavyweight semi-final
- Simeon Powell (205.9) vs. Daniel Ladero (205) – light heavyweight semi-final
- Dakota Ditcheva (124.7) vs. Cornelia Holm (125.6) – women’s flyweight semi-final
- Yazid Chouchane (156) vs. Henrique Madureira (154.1)
- Laureano Staropoli (180.7) vs. Baba Nadjombe (178.1) – 180-pound catchweight bout
- Ali Taleb (134) vs. Khurshed Kakhorov (136) – bantamweight semi-final
- Frans Mlambo (135.3) vs. Mokhtar Benkaci (134.9) – bantamweight semi-final
- Dylan Tuke (155.4) vs. Jakub Kaszuba (155.2) – lightweight semi-final
- John Mitchell (155.6) vs. Geisym Derouiche (156) – lightweight semi-final*
- Valentina Scatizzi (N/A) vs. Manuela Marconetto (N/A) – women’s flyweight semi-final**
Shanelle Dyer (125.4) vs. Luisa Fernanda Cifuentes (126)
* Per PFL Europe: Alex Chizov missed weight. He has been replaced in the Men’s Lightweight Playoffs by the alternate Geisym Derouiche
** Per PFL Europe: Manuela Marconetto missed weight and Valentina Scatizzi will move on with a walkover win and advances to the PFL Europe Championship