The most significant victory of Renan Ferreira’s career will likely come with an asterisk attached.
Ferreira spoiled Fabricio Werdum’s hotly anticipated Professional Fighters League debut, as he took care of the former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight titleholder with punches in the first round of their 2021 PFL 3 headliner on Thursday at the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Werdum (24-10-1, 0-1 PFL) met his end 2:32 into Round, and it was not without controversy.
A two-time Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist, Werdum struck for an inside trip takedown, shifted to half guard and appeared poised to move to full mount. However, the 6-foot-8 Ferreira swept into top position and immediately wandered into a triangle choke. Werdum tightened his squeeze while being punched, appeared to elicit a tapout and then relaxed. Referee Keith Peterson was positioned on the opposite side and failed to see the apparent submission. All the while, Ferreira continued to throw punches, and once he was clear of the choke, he uncorked a volley of hammerfists that resulted in the stoppage.
Meanwhile, two-time Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison kept her perfect professional record intact and did so in overwhelming fashion, as she disposed of Mariana Morais with punches in the first round of their women’s co-main event. Morais (16-11, 0-1 PFL) bowed out 1:23 into Round 1.
Harrison (9-0, 8-0 PFL) was flawless. The American Top Team rep punched into the clinch, executed a takedown and landed in side control. From there, the result was a formality. Harrison transitioned to full mount and let fly with powerful rights and lefts until the job was done. It was her fastest finish to date.
The loss snapped a three-fight winning streak for Morais.
Elsewhere, former two-division National Fighting Championship titleholder Brandon Sayles returned from a three-year absence and put Mohammed Usman to sleep with a rear-naked choke in the second round of their heavyweight feature. Usman (7-2, 0-1 PFL) lost his grip on reality 3:42 into Round 1.
A competitive first round in which both men had their moments gave rise to a wild middle stanza. Sayles (6-1, 1-0 PFL) dropped the Nigerian to his knees with a right hook, threatened with a standing guillotine choke and reset in open space when the submission failed to materialize. Another right hook floored Usman a second time near the base of the cage and set the stage for the finish. Sayles moved into top position, applied his ground-and-pound and cinched the choke once his compromised opponent surrendered his back. Soon after, Usman went limp.
Sayles, 40, has rattled off four consecutive victories.
Finally, onetime Jungle Fight champion Larissa Pacheco put away Julija Pajic with punches in the first round of their women’s lightweight showcase. The previously unbeaten Pajic (3-1, 0-1 PFL) succumbed to blows 51 seconds into Round 1.
Pacheco (14-4, 3-2 PFL) sat down the Croatian with a left hook inside the first 10 seconds, flowed immediately into mount and let her ground-and-pound do the rest. The Tata Fight Team export secured her position, cut loose with right hands and forced referee Gasper Oliver to intervene on the hapless Pajic’s behalf.
The 26-year-old Pacheco has won four of her past six bouts.
In other action, Bruno Henrique Cappelozza (11-5, 1-0 PFL) wiped out Ante Delija (17-4, 0-1 PFL) with punches 46 seconds into the first round of their featured heavyweight prelim; Kaitlin Young (12-10-1, 1-0 PFL) captured a unanimous verdict over Cindy Dandois (16-6, 0-1 PFL) in a three-round women’s lightweight pairing, earning 30-27 scores from all three judges; Genah Fabian (3-1, 3-1 PFL) laid claim to a unanimous decision over Laura Sanchez (1-1, 0-1 PFL) in a three-round women’s lightweight battle, sweeping the scorecards with 30-27 nods across the board; Denis Goltsov (26-6, 4-1 PFL) dispatched Muhammed DeReese (8-3, 3-3 PFL) with punches 4:21 into the first round of their heavyweight encounter; Taylor Guardado (1-1, 1-0 PFL) took a unanimous decision from Helena Kolesnyk (5-3, 0-1 PFL) in a three-round women’s lightweight clash, drawing 29-27, 30-26 and 30-26 marks from the cageside judges; and Magomed Umalatov (10-0, 1-0 PFL) punched out Kyron Bowen (9-6, 0-1 PFL) seven seconds into the second round of their welterweight affair.
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