Boxing Champ Savannah Marshall Shines in 2024 PFL Europe 2 Headliner

Former super-middleweight boxing champion Savannah Marshall took her first step into the world of mixed martial arts and the Professional Fighters League with a first-round stoppage win over Brazil’s Mirela Vargas (0:32) in the PFL Europe 2 2024 Regular Season main event at Utlita Arena in Newcastle, England.

Marshall was 13-1 with 10 knockouts in professional boxing, and her power carried into the Smartcage. Vargas looked to trade and even caught Marshall with an overhand right. Marshall walked through it and pilled on the pressure until the fight was eventually called. With the win, Marshall (1-0) will look to a potential MMA bout with three-weight world boxing champion Claressa Shields. Marshall defeated Shields in the amateurs before Shields evened the score. Shields faced off with Marshall post-fight as both fighters were open to a rubber match in the cage.

Dylan Tuke (8-4) scored a solid win over lightweight veteran Kane Mousah (30-27 29-28, 29-28). Mousah stepped behind Tuke in a slow-paced fight as the Dublin native stole rounds with his grappling.

Jack Grant beat Charlie Leary down like it was personal. It only took Grant 41 seconds to dispatch his fellow English welterweight after suplexing him into the canvas. Dazed and confused, Leary could not keep Grant’s fist from flying at his head. With the win, Grant moved into the 2024 PFL Europe Playoff welterweight semis.

Lewis McGrillen-Evans bounced back from his first loss with a gritty, spirited performance against Latvia’s Matiss Zaharovs (29-28, 29-28, 29-28). Zaharovs started the fight off strong and stuck McGrillen as he tried to close the distance. However, McGrillen wouldn’t let a little leather stop his momentum. In rounds 2 and 3, “The McGrizzla” marched forward and walked down his foe. Zaharovs had counters ready, but no more pop on his punches. McGrillen got past his guard and took his back, swaying the judges. With the win, the Manchester Top Team rep redeemed himself after a lackluster loss to Weslley Maia in last year’s PFL Europe finals.

Shanelle Dyer inserted her ballot for knockout of the year on Saturday after turning off Mariam Torchinava’s lights with a swift, subtle and sensational head kick at 3:53 of the first round. Dyer (5-0) has a reputation as one of Europe's best female strikers and she put that on display in a snap. With one flick of her right leg, Torchinava’s (8-3) five-fight win streak was history. Dyer will face Valentina Scatizzi in the 2024 PFL Europe Playoff semifinals.

It only took Ibragim Ibragimov 50 seconds to defeat his most experienced opponent. “The Mauler” took out Cage Warriors veteran Josh Reed (13-9) with a debilitating arm triangle in the first round. Reed had little answers for the Dagestani wrestler as Ibragimov improved to 7-0 while securing his fourth straight finish.

Dominique Wooding was likely three more unanswered punches away from snapping his two-fight skid, but late replacement Julien Lopez had other plans. Wooding dropped Lopez early into their bantamweight battle with a perfectly timed rear uppercut. Wooding moved in for the kill, but Lopez’s closed guard gave him a few precious seconds to recover. Once Lopez (7-3-1) got the fight back to its feet, the Frenchman quickly returned the favor and dropped Wooding with an overhand before putting him to sleep with a guillotine at 3:10 of the opening period.

Karolina Wojcik edged fellow flyweight Lizzy Gevers by a close unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) to move on to the semifinals. Wojcik and Gevers let it all out in the cage and traded throughout. In the end, both fighters believed they deserved to win, and the PFL broadcast was split as well. All three judges, however, favored the stockier Wojcik. With the win, Wojcik set up a semifinal showdown with fellow Pole Paulina Wisniewska on Sept. 28 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Claudio Pacella picked up his biggest career win after upsetting previously unbeaten Mark Ewen in a lightweight showcase. Ewen (5-1) tried to pick Pacella apart on the outside, but Pacella repeatedly made him pay with overhand rights. Ewen was forced to fight back and was quickly dragged into a slugfest. Pacella’s heavy hands served him well as Ewen took the worst of the punishment. After three entertaining rounds, Pacella (4-2) was awarded the win unanimously (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).

Last year’s PFL Europe bantamweight champion Khurshed Kakhorov (13-1) claimed the title off the heels of his fight-ending power. He could be well on his way to repeating after taking out Tuomas Gronvall in the third round (1:11) with a dynamite right hand. Gronvall (12-7-1) pressed Kakhorov and kept him on his back foot for most of the fight. Kakhorov adjusted and put Gronvall down and out with a short right hand that put him flat on his back.

Scatizzi bounced back from her loss to Dakota Ditcheva in last year’s PFL Europe finals with a unanimous decision over Marie Loiseau (30-27, 30-27, 30-27). Scatizzi did her best in the clinch and bullied the lean Loiseau into the fence. Loiseau found success in the center of the cage where she could put her reach to use, but Scatizzi’s pressure neutralized her offense for most of the fight.

Two-time K-1 kickboxing champion Ben Woolliss (4-0) added another victim to his ledger when he dispatched Nikola Ivanovic (0-8) in the first round (4:02). Ivanovic was brought in on a week’s notice and fought gamely for the opening minutes, but Woolliss was unfazed by Ivanovic’s power. He walked his man into the fence and put him away with a brutal left hook to the body followed by a breathtaking knee to the solar plexus.

Alperen Karabulut took Alexander Luster to the mat early in their bantamweight battle, and the decision cost him dearly. Luster instantly attacked Karabulut’s knee, then transitioned to a heel hook and finally finished the fight with a rear-naked choke 1:59 into the first round. Luster (8-1) has won three straight, and all eight of his victories have come within the final bell.

Wisniewska improved to 3-0 after starching Dee Begley (4-6) in two rounds (3:08). Begley was six pounds over the 125-pound limit, but it made little difference. Wisniewska used her reach to keep Begley at the end of her right cross and dropped her early in the first round. Wisniewska nearly finished the fight in the first frame with a rear-naked choke, but after Begley survived with her on her back for over two minutes. The Polish puncher went back to her bread and butter in the second stanza and with another snap of her right dropped Begley again and finished her off to advance to the 2024 PFL Europe playoffs.

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