PFL Playoffs: Lightweight Division Will Crown New Champion
The lightweight division of the Professional Fighters League (PFL) will crown a new lightweight king in the 2021 playoffs.
Much like in the featherweight division, the Professional Fighters League’s lightweight division will be crowning a brand new king at the end of the 2021 season.
With two-time PFL Lightweight Champion Natan Schulte failing to qualify for the postseason for the first time in his PFL career, three newcomers and a former lightweight finalist will be fighting for the league’s 155-pound championship.
Finishing at the top of the 155-pound standings is 2019 finalist Loik Radzhabov (14-3-1), who needed just one win to clinch the top seed in the division. Radzhabov came up short in his season debut, losing to Alexander Martinez by split decision at PFL 1. He bounced back in impressive fashion at PFL 4, scoring a 27-second TKO win over Akhmed Aliev. In 2019, Radzhabov battled all the way to the finals, only to lose by unanimous decision to Schulte. This season, he hopes to finally hoist world championship gold.
Coming in at the second seed is Clay Collard (20-8), who made an immediate impact at the start of season by pulling off the upset against former UFC and WEC champion Anthony Pettis at PFL 1. At PFL 4, Collard took down another highly-touted newcomer in Joilton Lutterbach to make it a perfect regular season campaign. The UFC veteran is likely seen as one of the favorites to take home the 2021 PFL Lightweight Championship.
Another newcomer to the league in Raush Manfio (13-3) fills the third seed. The Brazilian standout impressed in his league debut, defeating Joilton Lutterbach by split decision at PFL 1. He followed that up with an even bigger win against Anthony Pettis at PFL 6 to secure his spot in the postseason, and effectively end Pettis’ quest for PFL gold. In his first season with the PFL, Manfio finds himself in prime position to become a world champion.
Rounding out the cast of 155-pounders in the 2021 PFL Playoffs is Alexander Martinez (8-1), who is also in his first season with the league. Martinez came in as an undefeated prospect and got off to a blazing start by defeating Loik Radzhabov by split decision at PFL 1. Martinez lost to two-time champion Natan Schulte by split decision at PFL 4, but still managed to sneak into the fourth seed in the postseason.
Top-seeded Loik Rhadzabov gets the chance to avenge his regular season loss when he meets 4th-seeded Alexander Martinez in the first round of the playoffs, while 2nd-seeded Clay Collard looks to continue his magical PFL run against 3rd-seeded Raush Manfio.
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The lightweights will kick off the postseason at PFL 7 on Friday, August 13th at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
Don’t miss the action live on ESPN channels and via streaming on ESPN+.