PFL playoffs — Breaking down the lightweight, light heavyweight matchups

The PFL playoffs begin this week, beginning Friday with semifinals in the lightweight and light heavyweight divisions (ESPN and ESPN+, main card at 8:00 p.m. ET and preliminary rounds at 6:00 p.m.).

The main event at the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden in New York will be a re-run of a match from just six weeks ago pitting former UFC champion Anthony Pettis against Stevie Ray. Ray calmed the excitement at their meeting in June with a modified body lock. Despite the loss, Pettis goes into the playoffs as a top seed in the lightweight division.

Also on Friday’s card is top seeded light heavyweight Robert Wilkinson taking on Delan Monte. Wilkinson looked impressive in two fights in the regular season and will look to carry that momentum into the playoffs.

With spots in the $1 million finals at stake, here’s how Friday’s fights will play out.

Lightweight: Anthony Pettis vs. Stevie Ray

After an upset win over Pettis at PFL 5 in June, Ray will be looking for a replay in the rematch. Ray needs to bring the fight to the mat if he wants to win back-to-back wins against the former UFC champion. But I don’t see that this time. In the first fight, Pettis looked fantastic in Round 1 as he passed Ray from a distance and led all the action. Look for Pettis to keep up the fight to claim victory and advance to the finals. Forecast: Petti wins.

In a teammate battle, Silveira must beat another top American team fighter, Akhmedov, in the first round of the playoffs. Akmedov finished off his last two opponents while Silveira goes into the matchup as an alternative. In his last fight, he scored a highlight reel knockout against Martin Hamlett. Akmedov is explosive and physically strong, but over the years we’ve seen his cardio wane as the fights progressed into the later rounds. I like Silveira here. He’s the more technical forward, the better wrestler, and has the cardio to pick up the pace for all three rounds. Look for the Challenger Series product to achieve victory and keep going. Forecast: Silveira wins.

Well known for his wrestling skills, Aubin-Mercier has been using his punching and sideways moves to frustrate his opponents lately. However, if he doesn’t face Martinez, he will be in trouble. Martinez is an aggressive fighter. It’s constantly moving and has an endless tank of gas that could cause problems for Aubin-Mercier. I go here with the outsider. Martinez showed tremendous toughness in his fight against Clay Collard and almost reached the goal. I also think his impressive performance could cause enough problems for Aubin-Mercier to take him off his schedule. Forecast: Alex Martinez wins.

Light Heavyweight: Robert Wilkinson vs. Delan Monte

Wilkinson has looked great this season. After two dominant wins during the regular season, he gets a great style matchup in the first round of the playoffs. Monte is a tough and aggressive forward, but he’s prone to getting hit and doesn’t have good groundplay. Wilkinson, who will be the better forward, must dodge the power of Monte and take the fight to the ground. From there, Wilkinson can likely get a submission. Forecast: Wilkinson wins by distance. PFL playoffs — Breaking down the lightweight, light heavyweight matchups

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