The PFL is back this week with its most stacked card of the year so far as Canadian Lightweight champion Olivier Aubin-Mercier takes on former UFC standout Shane Burgos. This card is loaded from top to bottom with some live underdogs, so let's go over each of my predictions and betting picks for the card.
Odds provided by BetOnline.ag accurate as of 12:00 PM EST 4/11/2023
The PFL debut of Shane Burgos has arrived, and he will take on the Lightweight champion Olivier Aubin-Mercier. OAM is coming off a huge knockout over Stevie Ray to win the million dollars last year in what was a phenomenal season overall. Shane Burgos has had some wild fights with top contenders at Featherweight in the UFC and now moves up to Lightweight for his PFL run.
I like Aubin-Mericer here as he is the more well-rounded and defensively responsible fighter. If this line switches as it is trending, I will likely play Aubin-Mericer.
Action is expected in this matchup at Lightweight. Clay Collard has made a name for himself as the most exciting fighter in the PFL using his slick boxing and constant forward pressure. Yamato Nishikawa makes his PFL debut here at a very young age.
I am taking Clay Collard here as this is an excellent matchup for him as Nishikawa is very untested, and Collard is not the fighter you want your first test against.
The lone Heavyweight matchup here on the card as Denis Goltsov is rebooked following his pullout against Yorgan De Castro. Denis Goltsov is a strong grappler with a good submission game for his size. Patrick Brady enters this bout with minimal experience but an impressive record with both submission and knockout victories on his record.
I'm taking Goltsov here as this is a bad matchup for Brady in his debut, and I do not think he can compete in this matchup.
Welterweight action in this one. Carlos Leal returns after shaking things up last season with a massive upset over Ray Cooper before losing to eventual champ Sadibou Sy. David Zawada makes his PFL debut here; he has experience against very high-level competition with a win over Abubakar Nurmagomedov.
This fight is closer than the odds indicate with Leal having only really had one great performance in the PFL, so I'll lean with Zawada from a betting perspective.
Hard-hitting Welterweights collide in this one. Magomed Umalatov is undefeated, with plenty of highlight knockouts to show he's legit, and the only thing that has held him back from PFL gold so far is visa issues. Dilano Taylor is coming off a great season where he made it to the finals against Sadibou Sy.
This is another runner-up from last season with a tempting price tag that I must urge people to avoid, as Umalatov is not a fighter I would want to put my money against.
Last season's Welterweight champion returns to defend his throne. Sadibou Sy is a powerful kickboxer with insane speed that causes opponents trouble when across from him. Jarrah Hussein Al-Silawi is a crafty striker who has been fighting high-level opponents for much of his career, although he suffered a knockout loss his last time out that may be tough to recover from.
This is a good matchup for both men to do what they like which is strike, although I believe Sy has a clear advantage in speed, power, and durability which will make me take him here.
Grapplers matchup here early in the season at Welterweight. Magomed Magomedkerimov has become one of the most feared names in the PFL with wins over Ray Cooper and Chris Curtis over his time in the promotion. Ben Egli makes his debut here, and he has a solid submission game, although he has yet to compete with much, high-level competition.
There is a reason Magomedkerimov is this size a favorite, although with that being the case, I see no value in this line.
Fun matchup here at Lightweight between contenders. Natan Shulte looks to bounce back after a disappointing season last year. Stevie Ray comes in off his runner-up season, including two wins over Anthony Pettis.
At first glance, seeing the runner-up from last season in a matchup where he will likely have some grappling exchanges is tempting, although Shulte has all the tools to defend the grappling and dominate this fight striking.
Another exciting Lightweight matchup here on the card. Raush Manfio has been very fun to watch over his PFL run with several comeback knockout victories. Alex Martinez was given a very tough schedule over the last few seasons, and he has shown good accounts of himself against the top fighters in the division with some very close decisions.
It has been fun backing Manfio over his PFL run with him cashing some underdog tickets; however, against a durable guy in Martinez, I do not believe his style is reliable.
High pace Welterweights go head-to-head here. Shane Mitchell is a finisher with power on the feet and a good submission game, although he is often kill or be killed. Nayib Lopez enters with an impressive undefeated record, and although the competition was not very high level, he took part in multiple five-round fights; he has found more finishes of last in his career and stopped three of his previous four opponents.
I'll take Lopez here, as he has proven much more durable and controlled in his fights.
Debuting Lightweights look to make a name for themselves here. Bruno Miranda comes in off a knockout on the PFL challenger series, where he showed off his impressive punching power that has earned him three knockouts in his last four fights. Ahmed Amir appears to be a solid submission artist although it is difficult to get a read on him with many of his fights coming over very unimpressive competition.
I like Miranda in this matchup as he has faced much tougher competition and has proven competitive when stepping up, unlike Amir.
A fun matchup between aggressive Welterweights here. Zach Juusola makes his PFL debut here after getting a huge upset win on the PFL challenger series; he has solid boxing, although he has been finished several times. Brandon Jenkins returns to the PFL here after spending some time in the UFC following his highlight knockout over Jacob Kilburn.
I'll lean with Jenkins here as he has the experience edge, although it is difficult to trust such a wild fighter.
Clay Collard -255
Bruno Miranda -160