This past Saturday night we saw the 2023 season debut of the PFL. The promotion brought it was action packed fights in their featherweight and light heavyweight divisions. In the main event of the evening, 2022 featherweight champion Brendan Loughnane (27-4) took on “Magic” Marlon Moraes (23-12-1).
Moraes made his promotion debut at the 2022 championship event and was stopped in the third round. For him, it was his fifth straight loss by KO or TKO. He was looking to shock the world by knocking off the 2022 champion. Meanwhile, Loughnane was looking to make a statement that he’s on the path to becoming a back-to-back champion.
From the opening bell, Loughnane was in control. Moraes was plotting forward but he was real heavy on his front foot. Loughnane started blasting him with calf kicks that did serious damage. Moraes tried switching stances, but Loughnane would just kick whichever leg was forward.
By the end of the first round, Moraes could hardly walk. Moraes came out with everything he had in the second round looking for a desperation knockout. He came close with a couple of big shots but Loughnane remained composed. He crippled Moraes with one more kick that sent him down for good.
A massive opening night for the 2022 PFL champion while another crushing defeat for Marlon Moraes. Moraes is now 1-7 in his last eight and he’s been finished in all seven of those losses.
2023 PFL Season Debut
In the co-main event, 2022 PFL light heavyweight champion Rob Wilkinson (18-2) had the pleasure of welcoming former UFC title challenger Thiago Santos (22-12) to the promotion. Last season, we saw a ferrocious Wilkinson walk down his opponents and finish them with strikes.
However, we saw a completely different game plan from the Australian on Saturday night. While he’s always had the skill in his bag, Wilkinson relied on his wrestling. Choosing not to really engage with Santos which proved to be the smart decision.
When they were striking, Santos really did some damage with body kicks. However, the takedowns and control were the moral of the story and led to a big win for Rob Wilkinson to start of the season.
Loughnane’s finish has him in first place in the featherweight division while Wilkinson’s decision win has him in fourth after the first event. For a full breakdown of the standings, please see the official PFL standings here.