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Movlid Khaybulaev remains an unsolved mystery.
Repeated takedowns and suffocating control carried the Dagestani grappler in the 2021 Professional Fighters League featherweight semifinals, as he took a split decision from Brendan Loughnane in the PFL 9 main event on Friday at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Judges John Rupert and Eliseo Rodriguez cast 30-27 and 29-28 scorecards for Khaybulaev, while Daniel Torres saw it 29-28 for Loughnane.
With few exceptions, the unbeaten Khaybulaev (18-0-1, 4-0-1 PFL) was the dominant participant. He executed a takedown inside the first 20 seconds, corralled Loughnane on the canvas and applied his ground-and-pound. Khaybulaev was at peak strength in the middle stanza, where he dragged the Dana White’s Contender Series alum back to the mat, handcuffed his arm behind his back and unleashed a volley of punches to his exposed face. Loughnane (21-4, 4-1 PFL) managed to bloody his counterpart’s nose with an uppercut in Round 3, but the damage proved to be little more than a moral victory. Khaybulaev backed him to the fence with punches, secured another takedown and chewed up valuable time.
On a four-fight winning streak, Khaybulaev will confront Chris Wade in the million-dollar featherweight final on Oct. 27. Wade (20-6, 8-3 PFL) outscrambled, outgrappled and outhustled Bubba Jenkins to a unanimous decision in the first featherweight semifinal. Scores were 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28, all for the Long Island MMA representative.
Jenkins (16-5, 2-1 PFL) struck for two takedowns early in the first round, then ran into trouble. Wade threatened the onetime NCAA wrestling champion with an anaconda choke, transitioned to a guillotine and ultimately moved to the back, where he worked toward a rear-naked choke. The scene repeated itself over and over again over the final 10 minutes. Jenkins initiated grappling exchanges, only to be outmaneuvered by the former Ring of Combat titleholder. Wade opened a cut near his counterpart’s right eye with a hook kick in the third round and shifted to advantageous positions once the action spilled onto the floor.
The loss was Jenkins’ first since March 1, 2017 and slammed the door on his five-fight winning streak.
Meanwhile, American Top Team’s Antonio Carlos Jr. rode leg kicks, chopping right hands and timely takedowns to a unanimous decision over Emiliano Sordi in the 2021 light heavyweight semifinals. All three cageside judges scored it for Carlos Jr. (12-5, 2-0 PFL): 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
Sordi (23-9-1, 7-2 PFL) managed to keep the Brazilian at bay for a time with output and near-flawless takedown defense. However, Carlos Jr. wore him down with sheer determination and force of will. “The Ultimate Fighter Brazil” Season 3 winner seemed to grow stronger as the fight went longer. He pressed the issue in the clinch in the third round, where he struck for a pair of takedowns, twice advanced to Sordi’s back and made the Argentinian play defense when it mattered most.
The win moves Carlos Jr. into the light heavyweight final and a million-dollar showdown with Marthin Hamlet on Oct. 27.
Hamlet (8-2, 2-1 PFL) advanced to the light heavyweight final due to a stroke of misfortune for Cezar Ferreira, who appeared to suffer a serious hamstring injury while throwing a body kick. Ferreira (14-10, 1-2 PFL) collapsed to the canvas in visible distress and ate a few punches before referee Larry Folsom moved in to rescue him from further damage 13 seconds into the first round of their ill-fated semifinal.
The 29-year-old Hamlet has rattled off three wins in four appearances.
In other action, Sheymon Moraes (13-5, 2-1 PFL) put away Lazar Stojadinovic (14-9, 0-2 PFL) with punches 4:45 into the second round of their featherweight showcase; Chris Camozzi (27-15, 2-1 PFL) captured a unanimous verdict over Cory Hendricks (8-4, 1-1 PFL), earning 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 scores from the judges; Anthony Dizy (14-4, 1-1 PFL) took a unanimous decision from Jesse Stirn (11-6, 0-2 PFL) in a three-round featherweight encounter, carrying 29-28 scores across the board; Bobby Moffett (14-6, 1-1 PFL) laid claim to a unanimous verdict over Jason Knight (22-7, 0-1 PFL) in a three-round featherweight clash, drawing 29-28 marks from all three judges; Alejandro Flores Garcia (19-3, 1-0 PFL) eked out a split decision—29-28, 28-29, 29-28—over Carl Deaton (13-5, 0-1 PFL) in a three-round featherweight tilt; and Brandon Jenkins (14-6, 1-0 PFL) knocked out Jacob Kilburn (8-5, 0-1 PFL) with a flying knee 2:56 into the first round of their lightweight pairing.