Stevie Ray bests Anthony Pettis to advance to PFL lightweight finals

NEW YORK – The PFL had high hopes for Anthony Pettis when they signed him to a multi-year contract in 2021. But for the second year in a row, Pettis didn’t make it to the tournament finals.

Pettis (25-14), a former UFC champion, dropped Stevie Ray to a unanimous decision in the main event of Friday’s PFL event at the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden. All three judges scored the easy fight 29-28 to Ray (25-10).

The semi-final fight was a repeat of a fight that took place just six weeks ago during the 2022 regular season. Ray from Scotland also won this fight when he tapped Pettis in a rare modified twister.

All week Pettis, 35, had been promising the rematch would be different. He went into their first fight with nothing to actually win, having already secured a playoff spot with a first-round finish in his opening bout of the season. He credited Ray for the win but acknowledged that it was difficult to motivate himself to fight if the result didn’t change his playoff status.

Pettis looked good on his feet against Ray on Friday but was badly inferior on the floor. Pettis landed good kicks to the body, but Ray led him to the fence in the first and second rounds, took him down and chased a multitude of submissions.

Ray will advance to the finals on November 25th at a location to be announced. He meets Olivier Aubin-Mercier (16-5), who potted his ticket to the finals with a strong decision win over Alex Martinez. Aubin-Mercier twice dropped Martinez with his left hand in the fight, controlling him on the ground.

Friday’s event also saw light heavyweights Robert Wilkinson (16-2) and Omari Akhmedov (24-7-1) advance to the finals of that division. Wilkinson of Australia knocked out Delan Monte with his knees in the opening round of their semi-final match. He was on fire in 2022 and recorded three consecutive finishes. Akhmedov defeated Josh Silveira by unanimous decision.

All four 2022 PFL finalists have previously fought in the UFC. Wilkinson made two appearances in 2017 and 2018, including one against current UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya. Achmedov went 9-6-1 in the Octagon from 2013 to 2021. Ray fought in the UFC from 2015 to 2019, and Aubin-Mercier was there from 2014 to 2019.

https://www.espn.com/mma/story/_/id/34354329/stevie-ray-bests-anthony-pettis-advance-pfl-lightweight-finals Stevie Ray bests Anthony Pettis to advance to PFL lightweight finals

Emma Bowman

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