PFL 2023 #1

Date and venue: April 1, Las Vegas (USA).

Significant fights: Movlid Khaibulaev - Ryoji Kudo.

In April, the next season of the Professional Fighters League starts, in which seven fighters from Russia will take part. And the first of them to enter the fight will be the triumphant of the Grand Prix in the featherweight of 2021 Movlid Khaibulaev. He missed last season, but this season he will try to return to the leading position. And Ryoji Kudo doesn't look like someone who can stop him. Of the 16 fights, the Japanese won 11, and in the PFL he lost in two of the three fights, and far from the strongest opponents. Not knowing defeats, the domestic athlete looks like a clear favorite and with a high degree of probability will win the 20th victory in his career.

PFL 2023 #2

Date and venue: April 7, Las Vegas (USA).

Significant fights: Denis Goltsov - Yorgan De Castro, Rizvan Kuniev - Renan Ferreira, Marina Mokhnatkina - Yoko Higashi.

A week later, the second tournament of the promotion will be held, at which the Russian representation will increase to three athletes. And two of them face extremely difficult tests. Denis Goltsov will begin his third campaign for the title and a cash prize of $ 1 million, and the first obstacle in his way will be Yorgan De Castro, who managed to leave his mark in both the UFC and Eagle FC. In the promotion of Khabib Nurmagomedov, he won two victories, and in the last duel he won not over anyone, but over the legendary Junior dos Santos. Even if the reason for this was the shoulder injury of the Brazilian.

In turn, another former representative of Eagle FC will debut in the league. In August 2019, Rizvan Kuniyev won the organization's heavyweight trophy and subsequently made two defenses, after which he received an invitation from the PFL. And immediately received in the opponents of the semifinalist of last year's tournament Renan Ferreira. He is very dangerous in the rack, as he confirmed in the regular season of 2022, when he knocked out two opponents in a total of 56 seconds. But the Russian is also a good striker and will certainly try to "shoot" the opponent from a distance.

As for Mokhnatkina, last year she already aroused the admiration of the fans, when only by decision she lost to Kayla Harrison, and then fought to the last for a place in the playoffs. The first attempt failed to accomplish this task, but there is a great opportunity to succeed with the second. However, to do this, you need to successfully start and deal with Yoko Higashi in the first fight. The Japanese has not yet fought in major promotions, and at home she did not always look impressive. Confirmation of this is the record of 8-2 in the absence of star opponents in the resume.

UFC 287

Date and venue: April 8, Miami (USA).

Significant fights: Alex Pereira (h) - Israel Adesanya (middleweight title), Gilbert Burns - Jorge Masvidal.

No sooner had the long-awaited rematch between Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman thundered, as the largest MMA promotion on the planet is preparing to please fans with another one. Within its framework, Israel Adesanya will try to regain the title of the strongest middleweight on the planet. However, to do this, he needs to break the series of three defeats in the confrontation with Alex Pereira. He lost to him twice under kickboxing rules, and last year he lost by knockout in mixed martial arts. Although he was considered the favorite and on the eve of the fifth round led all three judges on cards with the same score of 39:37.

By and large, for Adesanya, this fight is a moment of truth. He is still considered one of the strongest fighters regardless of categories and ranks fifth in the Pound-for-Pound rankings. But another failure in the battle with Pereira could fix it. In fact, it is on the outcome of this duel that his legacy depends, which only increases the pressure on the athlete. And it's hard to say whether he's ready to handle it. After all, even his mentor Eugene Bermann doubts the timeliness of the second fight, according to whom Israel should have arranged a couple of warm-up fights before the next meeting with Alex.

No less intriguing is the battle between the stars of welterweight. In March 2022, Jorge Masvidal lost to Colby Covington and suffered a third defeat in a row, depriving him of his place not only in the title race, but also in the top 10 of the rating. To get back there, he needs to get the better of Gilbert Burns, but it won't be easy. The Brazilian is in excellent shape, and the failure in the battle with Khamzat Chimaev did not affect his reputation at all. Literally one victory is enough for him to be perceived again as one of the contenders for the trophy.

PFL 2023 #3

Date and venue: April 14, Las Vegas (USA).

Significant fights: Abdul-Aziz Abdulvakhabov - Ahmed Amir, Magomed Magomedkerimov - Don Madj, Magomed Umalatov - Dilano Taylor.

The third PFL show in April will also feature three domestic athletes. But if for Magomed Magomedkerimov and Magomed Umatalatov this will not be something new, then Abdul-Aziz Abdulvakhabov will debut in the promotion. In any case, this is the opinion of the American League, which announced his fight with former BRAVE CF champion Ahmed Amir. At the same time, the ACA said that he still remains their champion and does not leave the championship.

As for other Russians, they will face difficult tests, but the language does not turn to call their opponents superstars. Don Madge has won only ten of his 15 lightweight fights and has decided to move up to the welterweight division, but even there he risks starting with a defeat. Magomedkerimov is considered to be one of the most experienced representatives of the PFL, and in the last 14 battles he lost only once.

It is noteworthy that one of his victims was the future counterpart of Umalatova, largely indebted to his future rival. Initially, it was Magomed who was supposed to fight Rory McDonald in the semifinals of last year's Grand Prix, but due to visa problems, this right passed to Dylano Taylor. And he took full advantage of it. The American knocked out the star Canadian and reached the decisive stage, where he was weaker than Sadib Sy.

UFC on ESPN 44

Date and venue: April 15, Kansas City (USA).

Significant fights: Max Holloway - Arnold Allen, Azamat Murzakanov - Dustin Jacoby.

In turn, the 13th victory in his career will try to win the triumphant show Dana White's Contender Series Azamat Murzakanov. Last year, he won twice early and deserved a meeting with a serious opponent. Since June 2019, Dustin Jacoby has lost only once, and even then by split decision, but defeated such athletes as Maxim Grishin and Michal Oleksiychuk. And for the Russian, a fight with him will not be an easy walk. The American is an experienced kickboxer and exchanging with him in the rack will not be the best idea.

As well as for Arnold Allen, who is preparing for the main fight in his career. If he breaks Max Holloway's resistance, he will probably swap places with him and can expect to face off against the winner of the unification fight for the featherweight title. But so far, his mission seems, if not impossible, then extremely difficult to implement. Over the past nine years, the Hawaiian was second only to one person in the category up to 65.8 kg - Alexander Volkanovski, while the rest were dealt with playfully.

UFC Fight Night 222

Date and venue: April 22, Las Vegas (USA).

Significant fights: Sergey Pavlovich - Curtis Blades.

The same can be said for the newly minted heavyweight star. Over the past year, the Russian has become one of the most intimidating fighters on the planet and in 2023 can strengthen the status of the first number of the division. However, to do this, he needs to prevail over a stylistically uncomfortable opponent. If sergei Pavlovich seems invulnerable in the rack, then in the stalls he is not so good, and Curtis Blades may well take advantage of this.

In fact, this fight will show whether Pavlovic has made progress in grappling since his meeting with Alistair Overeem. In November 2018, he very easily allowed himself to be transferred to the ground, missed a series of heavy blows and found himself in a deep knockout. And all of this could happen again in a duel with Blades if the Russian can't properly defend against passes to his feet. But it will be extremely difficult to do this. Curtis holds the record holder in heavyweight history for the number of takedowns (62), as well as the duration of the control (1:20:06) and the time spent in the top position (1:06:00).

UFC Fight Night 223

Date and venue: April 29, Las Vegas (USA).

Significant fights: Arman Tsarukyan - Renato Moicano.

Unlike Pavlovich, the Russian-Armenian lightweight is still far from the title of the first contender for the trophy. And a possible victory over Renato Moicano is unlikely to allow him to seriously advance in the rankings. At the moment, Arman Tsarukyan is on the eighth line, while his opponent is on the 13th, while having four victories in the last six fights.

At the same time, this battle will clearly not be a passing one. After moving to the category of 70.3 kg, Moicano lost only to stars - Rafael Fiziev and Rafael dos Anjos, while with the rest he did not spend more than two rounds. Renato is not bad both in the rack and on the ground, and a fight with him will be a great test for Tsarukyan.