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Preview: PFL 1 2024

Delija vs. Moldavsky



The Professional Fighters League kicks off its 2024 regular season Thursday with a heavyweight showcase and the first look at the newly formed women’s flyweight division.

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PFL heavyweight veterans Ante Delija and Denis Goltsov each welcome two of Bellator MMA’s best, Valentin Moldovsky and Linton Vassell, to the SmartCage. Bellator 125-pound champion Liz Carmouche makes her PFL debut, and with an influx of new hungry talent, the fight for the $1 million grand prize will be more loaded than ever.

It all goes down at the Boeing Center in San Antonio, Texas. Prelims begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, with the main card slated for 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2/ESPN+.

Here’s your preview for 2024 PFL Regular Season 1.

Heavyweights
Ante Delija (24-5) vs Valentin Moldavsky (12-3)


Delija lost in the 2021 PFL heavyweight finale and channeled his disappointment into a successful title run the following year. Unfortunately, his hopes for a repeat were destroyed after he injured his knee in a win over Maurice Green.

The Croatian heavyweight may be coming off a nine-month layoff, but he’s in perfect health for a championship campaign. Having won his last five fights, Delija (24-5) has beaten some of the best PFL has to offer. He holds wins over last year’s champion Renan Ferreira and rising contender Denis Goltsov.

Trained by the legendary Mirko Filipovic, Delija is “Walking Trouble.” The 6-foot-5, 215-pound juggernaut wields a scary combination of speed and power but won’t hesitate to take the fight to the ground. With 17 career stoppages under his belt (11 KOs, 6 submissions), Delija can end a fight in a hurry.

Delija isn’t the only fighter trained by an all-time great. Moldavsky (12-3) comes out of Fedor Emelianenko’s camp hoping to realize the potential he flashed in other promotions. After a successful amateur career, Moldavsky signed with Rizin Fighting Federation and advanced to the final round of the 2016 Grand Prix. Moldavsky would claim the interim Bellator heavyweight title and challenge Ryan Bader for the full crown before losing again.

Also a European sambo champion, Moldavsky has a heavy sprawl-and-brawl type of style that keeps him dangerous. He hides his wrestling behind a heavy jab and high work rate. Despite only having 15 fights, he’s already been five rounds twice and can press the action for as long as he needs.

Both fighters have been stopped early, which could affect Thursday’s main event. Delija is four inches taller, on average 20 pounds heavier, and has a clear advantage in hand speed. If Moldavsky can get the fight to the ground early, he may be able to outwork Delija en route to a decision but don’t be surprised if Delija goes for the finish in the first round.

Jump To »
Delija vs. Moldavsky
Goltsov vs. Vassell
Carmouche vs. Velasquez
Golm vs. James
The Prelims
More

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