Can Martina Jindrova hand Kayla Harrison her first loss?
Aug 17, 2022
The final event of the first round of the PFL playoffs will take place this Saturday, as the featherweight and women’s lightweight divisions have their semifinal matchups at Copper Box Arena in London (ESPN and ESPN at 2 p.m. ET, prelims on ESPN at 1 p.m.).
The main event will be a fight between two-time PFL women’s lightweight champ Kayla Harrison and Martina Jindrova. Harrison, who is undefeated as a pro, enters the fight as the No. 2 seed, while Jindrova is the No. 3 seed.
Also on the card, Chris Wade, the top seed in the featherweight division, takes on Brendan Loughnane. Wade was the runner-up in last season’s PFL finals and made the lightweight semifinals in the two seasons before that.
With spots in the $1 million finals on the line, here’s how I see Saturday’s fights playing out.
Women’s lightweight: Kayla Harrison vs. Martina Jindrova
Jindrova earned her way onto the PFL roster with an impressive win on the Challenger Series, and she followed that with a finish in her last fight. But she will be facing by far her toughest opponent to date in Harrison. If Jindrova can keep the fight standing somehow, she can remain competitive, as she is the better striker. However, against Harrison, everyone eventually gets taken down. The odds on Harrison, per usual, are through the roof — as lopsided as 50-1 at some sportsbooks — so look to bet on her by either KO or submission in order to get a better line. Prediction: Harrison to win by submission.
Featherweight: Chris Wade vs. Brendan Loughnane
Coming off a first-round TKO over Kyle Bochniak, Wade is the top seed but must fight in Loughnane’s home country. Wade has looked almost flawless this season, while Loughnane hasn’t looked as impressive in his last two outings. Both men are credible strikers with good cardio and experience. However, Wade’s wrestling ability could give him an advantage. We saw him use his wrestling to secure a win last season in his fight with Bubba Jenkins. I think Wade continues his dominance here, using his wrestling to get the win over the crafty Loughnane. Prediction: Wade to win.
Women’s lightweight: Larissa Pacheco vs. Olena Kolesnyk
For Kolesnyk, getting into the PFL playoffs was a win in itself. Now that she’s in, she will try to avenge last season’s loss to Pacheco. Kolesnyk has to use head movement and keep Pacheco at a distance if she plans on pulling off the upset. Pacheco has been on an absolute tear, finishing each opponent she has faced this season. She appears to be in prime form to continue that streak against Kolesnyk. Pacheco has massive power in her hands and has an excellent ground game, if she feels the need to take it there. Don’t blink, this fight might end quickly like last time. Prediction: Pacheco to win inside the distance.
Featherweight: Ryoji Kudo vs. Bubba Jenkins
Kudo has been a nice surprise addition to the PFL this season. In his first fight, he was having a ton of success against Loughnane until an accidental headbutt caused an early stoppage. In his second fight, he earned a first-round KO to punch his ticket into the playoffs. For Kudo, he has to keep the fight standing and land shots early on if he plans on pulling off the upset. However, that is easier said than done against someone with the wrestling background of Jenkins. Jenkins has improved tremendously on the feet, but there is simply no reason for him to give Kudo that opportunity. I think Jenkins will play this one safe and wrestle his way to victory. Prediction: Jenkins to win by decision.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.