PFL World Championship Best Bets: How to Bet -700 MMA Favorite Kayla Harrison at Plus Money (Friday, November 25)
Cooper Neill/Getty Images. Pictured: PFL women’s lightweight Kayla Harrison
- The 2022 PFL World Championship event takes place Friday night and streams via ESPN+ pay-per-view.
- The loaded MMA fight card features six tournament finals, with each winner earning a $1 million check.
- Below, Manpreet Jhass offers his best bets for all of the top fights on the PFL 10 card.
The worldwide leader in mixed martial arts takes a break this weekend, setting the stage for the PFL to have its season finale and crown six new champions as well as hand out six $1 million prizes.
This event goes down on Friday in New York City at Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden. The PFL 10 prelims starts at 5:30 p.m. ET (2:30 p.m. PT) on ESPN+ before the main card kicks off at 8 p.m. ET exclusively on ESPN+ pay-per-view ($49.99).
The event, also dubbed PFL 10: 2022 Championships, has six tournament finals, including Kayla Harison (15-0) looking to capture her third tourney championship when she squares off against former two-time foe Larissa Pacheco (18-4). This event will also feature the PFL debut of former UFC fighters Marlon Moraes (23-10-1) and Aspen Ladd (9-3).
The full PFL World Championship card includes:
MAIN CARD (ESPN+ pay-per-view, 8 p.m. ET)
- Kayla Harrison vs. Larissa Pacheco – women's lightweight tournament final
- Brendan Loughnane vs. Bubba Jenkins – featherweight tournament final
- Ante Delija vs. Matheus Scheffel – heavyweight tournament final
- Julia Budd vs. Aspen Ladd
- Stevie Ray vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier – lightweight tournament final
- Dilano Taylor vs. Sadibou Sy – welterweight tournament final
- Omar Akhmedov vs. Rob Wilkinson – light-heavyweight tournament final
PRELIMINARY CARD (ESPN+, 5:30 p.m. ET)
- Sheymon Moraes vs. Marlon Moraes
- Natan Schulte vs. Jeremy Stephens
- Magomed Magomedkerimov vs. Gleison Tibau
- Dakota Ditcheva vs. Katherine Corogenes
- Biaggio Ali Walsh vs. Tom Graesser
This promises to be an action-packed card with betting opportunities aplenty. I am targeting the top three fights to squeeze out some cash and to make this PFL fight night even more enjoyable.
Read on to find out where my money is going.
Kayla Harrison vs. Larissa Pacheco
Harrison and Pacheco met twice during the 2019 PFL season with Harrison getting her hand raised both times via a decision win – the first time over three rounds and the second time over five rounds, as it served as the tournament final for that season.
Harrison will look to push her undefeated streak to 16 while clinching her third tourney title with the promotion.
Pacheco hopes to pull off an upset that would shake the entire MMA world.
Since joining the MMA world back in 2018, Harrison has looked unstoppable. Her background in Olympics – gold medals in judo in 2012 and 2016 – has fueled her success. She is a strong and physically imposing fighter who can get her opponents to the ground at will. When in that dominant position, she can rain down big shots or find a submission. She has finished 12 of her 15 victories. Her striking game is still improving, but it is good enough to keep her out of trouble before she drags the fight to the mat, as she did in her most recent fight:
Pacheco had just turned 20 a week before her short-lived UFC career. She went 0-2 against Jessica Andrade and Germaine de Randamie. The promotion did give her another shot by going through the UFC's reality show, The Ultimate Fighter, but she lost in the tourney format to the eventual winner, Macy Chiasson.
Since that show, Pacheco has amassed a 7-2 record with her lone losses coming to Harrison.
Also, since their last meeting, Pacheco has finished her five opponents – all in the first round. She is a mean striker with a great ground game.
The first two meetings between these women had Kayla Harrison as a -1700 and -1200 favorite. She is now sitting at -700, which indicates bettors and oddsmakers realize Pacheco is getting better. Now 28 compared to the 25-year-old she was during their first two fights, Pacheco will likely have made more improvements than Harrison has made. I'm still not sold that will be enough to make up the difference, though.
We do need to respect the improvements from Pacheco and not even bother looking at the heavy chalk on Harrison.
I think the best way to play this fight is going with the same line of thinking from their first two meetings. Both fights went the distance, and we are getting the overs at plus money starting with 2.5. I'd feel comfortable all the way up to an alternative total of over 4.5 at +170.
These two will always be the best in PFL in this weight class, and no matter how easily they finish other opponents, it won't come as easily against each other.
I'm expecting a long, drawn-out battle with Harrison controlling the majority of this fight from top position. That plays right into our hand by eating up the clock and helping us cash the over.
The Pick: Over 2.5 Rounds (+105 at BetMGM)
Brendan Loughnane vs. Bubba Jenkins
Down in the featherweight division is where we find ourselves for the co-main event. There, we have two of the best fighters PFL has to offer, regardless of weight class.
Brendan Loughnane (25-4) looks to silence the doubters, especially Dana White and the UFC. Bubba Jenkins (19-5), meanwhile, hopes to add a PFL belt to his mantle alongside his NCAA Division I wrestling championship.
The UFC's Contender Series feeder system has produced some high-level talent in the UFC, but widely regarded as the biggest and most notable snub was Loughnane back in 2019. Loughnane did enough to win the decision, but it was a last-minute takedown that resulted in a gesture of disapproval from bossman White that ultimately ended up being the reason Loughnane didn't get a contract.
After that fight, Loughnane joined the PFL and has put together a shiny 7-1 record. His only loss came against the eventual 2021 tournament winner, Movlid Khaybulaev.
Loughnane is a crafty and gritty striker who has worked relentlessly on his takedown defense since that loss to Khaybulaev. It was on full display in his last fight against Chris Wade, who defeated Jenkins in last year's semifinal but came up short against Khaybulaev in the final. Loughnane has shown to have a great gas tank in all his fights, which makes me believe he will be good to go should this reach the championship rounds.
Brendan Loughnane is locked in on bringing home the Featherweight World Title!
— PFL (@PFLMMA) November 24, 2022
Jenkins was a highly touted prospect when he made the jump to MMA back in 2011. His high-level collegiate wrestling background had people thinking he was a champion waiting to be crowned as long as he could develop his striking.
He fell short in his fifth professional fight, though, and the ceiling was starting to show for him.
However, Jenkins has made solid improvements in dealing with the ups and downs of the sport, which has finally set him up in this spot to become the PFL featherweight champion and add a cool $1 million to the bank.
🗣️ BUBBA JENKINS BRINGING THE HEAT
— PFL (@PFLMMA) November 24, 2022
At his best, Jenkins can blend his high-level wrestling game behind powerful and explosive strikes. He doesn't often throw in combinations, but he can crack, which demands respect from his opponents.
Jenkins has been night and day on certain occasions with his ability to control fighters on the mat. One thing is for certain. though: The more you make Jenkins work, the more he starts to show signs of wear and tear.
I think the five-round nature of this fight significantly gives an advantage to Loughnane. His leg-kicking game will slow down Jenkins, and I think his improved takedown defense can keep this fight upright. I believe Loughnane will force Jenkins to work from the first bell and will start to reap the benefits of his pace as we leak into the third and fourth rounds.
All of those advantages make me believe the price tag we are getting on Loughnane is a steal. I would play him up to -220.
The Pick: Brendan Loughnane to win (-160 on Caesars)
Ante Delija vs. Matheus Scheffel
Big boys throwdown in the third-to-last fight of the night when we have last year's runner-up, Ante Delija (22-5), taking on Mateus Scheffel (17-8) in the heavyweight tournament final.
Delija came up short in a five-round war in his last finals appearance but hopes to right the ship this time around.
Scheffel originally failed to make the playoffs, but unfortunate circumstances for a pair of other heavyweights allowed Scheffel to be a replacement, which he capitalized on and stamped his spot in the final.
Which heavyweight is going home with the extra hardware? Only one can leave 2022 PFL Heavyweight World Champion
— PFL (@PFLMMA) November 24, 2022
Delija was briefly linked with signing to the UFC back in 2020 to fight Ciryl Gane, but the PFL refused to let him out of his contract. It would have been very interesting to see how that fight would play out, especially considering Gane's lack of takedown defense on display against Ngannou earlier this year.
Getting back on track about Delija, he is a wrestle-heavy Croatian who trains with MMA legend Mirco Cro Cop. He likes to ground his opponents, brutalize them from on top, or grind them out to win decisions. His striking is solid, but it's not the best part of his game.
Scheffel came up short in his chance on the Contender Series last year but has made the most of it while in the PFL, now finding himself one victory away from a $1 million paycheck. Safe to say he would never get close to that kind of pay had he gotten signed to the UFC.
Scheffel competed at light-heavyweight for a couple of fights but now has settled in at heavyweight. His speed has not suffered, and that is fully on display when he showcases his striking. He throws in combinations and is tough to deal with for a lot of fighters. His opponents normally want to take him down, but he does a great job of not settling on bottom and instead working back to his feet almost immediately when taken down. Scheffel's cardio looks solid for a heavyweight, and I think that will be his advantage in this fight.
These guys met in their first regular season matchup this year, and Delija came out on top with a knockout victory. The positives were there from Scheffel, though. He was taken down twice by Delija but nullified the damage from top and worked back to his feet immediately. He made one mistake in the striking realm, and Delija made him pay for it. That's how heavyweight goes.
I don't think the line accurately represents the chances Scheffel has in this matchup. Should this fight go deep into championship rounds as well, I think Scheffel's takedown defense will hold up and the fight will need to be contested in his realm, striking. I think the bulk of Delija's finishing power will have subsided by Round 3, and that is when Scheffel can start landing at will and get ahead on the numbers.
Delija deserves to be the favorite given his grappling upside, but this line is way too wide to trust his inability to hold down Scheffel and to hang with him on the feet the later this fight goes.
Although Scheffel's price is already a steal in the +275 range, a sprinkle on his decision prop at +900 wouldn't be too shabby either.
I would play Scheffel up to +150, as I think that is when we start losing the edge.