Abdullah Al-Qahtani Leads Wave of Playoff Qualifiers at PFL MENA 1

Abdullah Al-Qahtani made his opponent quit in his latest Professional Fighters League assignment. There can be no greater joy for a mixed martial artist.

Al-Qahtani put away Yazeed Hasanain with punches in the second round of their PFL MENA 1 headliner on Friday at The Green Halls in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Hasanain (3-1, 0-1 PFL) turned to referee Rich Mitchell, waved his arms and indicated he could absorb no further punishment 4:59 into Round 2. The show featured qualifying bouts in the featherweight and bantamweight divisions for the newly established Middle East and North Africa branch of the PFL.

Hasanain was more or less outgunned. Al-Qahtani (9-1, 4-0 PFL) staggered him with a left hook in the first round, completed a takedown and went about stalking his Jordanian counterpart. He pressed Hasanian into the fence for much of the second round, dodged return fire and unleashed power punches to the head. Damage was cumulative on Hasanain and ultimately forced him to raise the white flag in an effort to preserve his long-term health.

Meanwhile, Redline MMA export Ali Taleb rebounded from his Sept. 30 loss to Khurshed Kakhorov and outstruck fellow former UAW Warriors champion Nawras Abzakh to a unanimous decision in their three-round bantamweight co-main event. All three cageside judges scored it for Taleb (10-1, 3-1 UFC): 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.

The 32-year-old Abzakh (12-6, 0-1 PFL) secured takedowns in all three rounds but otherwise proved ineffective. Taleb boxed him onto the back foot and unleashed two, three and four punches at a time. The Akira Corassani protege mixed in the occasional jab and leg kick but did his best work through powerful hooks to the head and body. Taleb’s progress stalled in the third round after being taken down, but by then, the outcome had already been decided.

The defeat was Abzakh’s second in three outings.

Further down the card, Entram Gym’s Rachid El Hazoume disposed of Xavier Alaoui with a rear-naked choke in the second round of their bantamweight feature. Alaoui (14-6, 0-1 PFL) conceded defeat 2:54 into Round 2, suffering his second setback in as many appearances.

El Hazoume (11-3, 1-1 PFL) put the Tristar Gym rep on notice in a back-and-forth first round. He struck for a takedown with roughly 90 seconds left in the period, advanced to the back, secured his position with a body triangle and probed for potential chokes. Alaoui answered early in Round 2, where he dropped the Moroccan with a left hook and bit down on an attempted guillotine. The choke failed, however, and El Hazoume soon sprang a reversal. He again progressed to the back, flattened out Alaoui and snaked his arms in place for the fight-ending choke.

The 31-year-old El Hazoume has won six of his past seven bouts.

In other action, Islam Reda (10-1, 1-0 PFL) captured a unanimous decision against Adam Meskini (8-3, 0-1 PFL) in their three-round featherweight confrontation; Tariq Ismail (7-1-1, 0-0-1 PFL) settled for a majority draw with Jalal Al Daja (11-8-1, 0-0-1 PFL) in their three-round bantamweight battle; Elias Boudegzdame (19-8, 1-0 PFL) subdued Hassan Mandour (8-6, 0-1 PFL) with a guillotine choke 52 seconds into the second round of their bantamweight encounter; Maraoune Bellagouit (6-0, 1-0 PFL) punched out Ahmed Raouf (6-2-1, 0-1 PFL) to remain unbeaten 4:24 into the third round of their featherweight tilt; Abdalrahman Alhyasat (4-0, 1-0 PFL) laid claim to a unanimous decision over Ahmed Tarek (4-1, 0-1 PFL) in their three-round featherweight clash; Hattan Alsaif cut down Nada Faheem with a head kick 41 seconds into the second round of their amateur women’s atomweight pairing; and Malik Basahel took a three-round unanimous decision from Harsh Pandya in an amateur flyweight clash.

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