Thursday, April 18, 2024

PFL vs. Bellator: Champions — Fight card, odds, date, start time, preview, live stream, PPV price, prelims

On Saturday, some of the best fighters from PFL and Bellator MMA will meet in a card built around promotional supremacy. The PFL vs. Bellator pay-per-view event is the first cross-promotional card since PFL acquired Bellator in November 2023.

The card has taken some hits with fighters falling out, but two battles of current champions remain. Heavyweights Renan Ferreira (PFL) and Ryan Bader (Bellator) are set to square off, as well as light heavyweight champion Impa Kasanganay (PFL) taking on middleweight champion Johnny Eblen (Bellator) at 185 pounds.

Those fights and plenty more compelling action are all set to go down from Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with prelims beginning at noon ET on ESPN+ before a 3 p.m. main card on PPV.

Let’s take a deeper look at the two champion vs. champion clashes and a quick look at the rest of the card.

PFL vs. Bellator fight card, odds

PFL Bellator Weightclass
Renan Fereira (c) -115 Ryan Bader (c) -105 Heavyweight
Impa Kasanganay (c) +300 Johnny Eblen (c) -400 Middleweight
Ray Cooper III +525 Jason Jackson -750 Welterweight
Bruno Cappelozza +300 Vadim Nemkov -400 Heavyweight
Thiago Santos -110 Yoel Romero -110 Light heavyweight
Clay Collard +240 AJ McKee -300 Lightweight

PFL vs. Bellator viewing information

Date: Feb. 24 | Start time: 3 p.m. ET (main card)
Location: Kingdom Arena — Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
TV channel: ESPN+ PPV | Price: $49.99

Renan Ferreira (-115) vs. Ryan Bader (-105), heavyweight

Bader has been a Bellator champion since 2017, first holding the light heavyweight title and then moving up to capture the heavyweight belt. Bader’s 9-2 run since leaving the UFC (he joined the promotion after winning his final two UFC bouts) has been impressive, but his two losses came by stoppage to strikes.

Ferreira’s record is a little deceptive. He’s officially 6-1 in PFL fights, but he also has three no contests during the run, two of which were losses that were overturned when his opponents tested positive for banned substances and the other came when it was missed that Ferreira had tapped to Fabricio Werdum’s arm triangle choke before stopping Werdum with punches.  

If Bader’s chin is a liability, Ferreira is the man who can exploit it. The hulking 6-foot-8 Brazilian has 10 knockouts in 12 career wins. Size will likely play into the fight in several ways. Bader is not a small man at 6-foot-2 but giving up six inches is a big deal, especially when Bader’s best path to victory is to close the distance and try to use his wrestling to put Ferreira on his back. Ferreira’s last loss came as a result of ground and pound and Bader certainly doesn’t want to stand and strike with a man who can knock him out with a single shot. If Bader can get inside with regularity and impose his wrestling, he can pull off the win, but it’s going to be dangerous every step of the way. Pick: Renan Ferreira via TKO, Round 2

Impa Kasanganay (+300) vs. Johnny Eblen (-400), middleweight

Kasanganay has been tremendous since joining PFL, but he will likely always be remembered as the guy who was on the bad end of one of the craziest knockouts in UFC history after being caught by Joaquin Buckley’s jumping spinning back kick. For every great highlight, there’s a man on the receiving end, however, and that doesn’t have to be the end of that man’s time as a legitimate fighter. Kasanganay has won six straight fights — five in the PFL cage — to end up in a featured bout on a pay-per-view. Kasanganay is the PFL light heavyweight champion but is moving down to middleweight for the fight.

Despite Kasanganay turning around his fortunes, he enters Saturday as a considerable underdog to Eblen. The American has never tasted defeat as a professional, with a 14-0 record. He captured the Bellator middleweight title from Gegard Mousasi in June 2022 and successfully defended the belt twice before PFL acquired Bellator.

Eblen’s wrestling should dictate how the fight plays out, even as he has a tendency to engage in striking despite his top-tier grappling skills. The more Eblen allows Kasanganay to stand, the more Kasanganay has the chance to score the upset. But Eblen usually flips the switch at the fight time and should be able to grind out a win on the ground. Pick: Johnny Eblen via UD

Quick hits 

  • Jason Jackson (-750) vs. Ray Cooper III (+525), 182-pound catcweight — Bellator welterweight champion Jackson was set to face PFL welterweight king Magomed Magomedkerimov before Magomedkerimov withdrew in January. Cooper won two PFL tournaments and lost in the finals of another. His fortunes have not been so good as of late, with two losses in his three most recent fights. Jackson, meanwhile, has won seven straight fights, most recently knocking out Yaroslav Amosov to capture his title in the final Bellator fight of the pre-PFL era. Pick: Jason Jackson via TKO, Round 3
  • Bruno Cappelozza (+300) vs. Vadim Nemkov (-400), heavyweight — Nemkov gave up his Bellator light heavyweight title to seek new success at heavyweight. He’s in for a stiff test against Cappelozza, who has 14 knockouts in 15 career victories. Nemkov is the better fighter and brings an 11-fight winning streak into a fight against Cappelozza, who has not recorded a win in nearly two years. Pick: Vadim Nemkov via UD
  • In addition to the above fights, there are some compelling storylines on the rest of the card, including Yoel Romero and Thiago Santos battling in a fight between two familiar names, Clay Collard clashing with A.J. McKee in a lightweight fight with explosive potential, Aaron Pico looking to avenge his January 2019 loss to Henry Corrales in a rematch and women’s boxing great Claressa Shields returning to MMA action when she faces Kelsey DeSantis.

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