The 2022 PFL Championship featured a whopping six title fights on the main card, plus a women’s featherweight bout and a five-fight undercard that provided fans with plenty of MMA on a weekend when the sport’s other top promotions were out of action.
There’s plenty to discuss and unpack from everything that went down at PFL’s final event of the year, so here are seven takeaways from the PFL 2022 World Championship.
Making A Name For Yourself
Any fight promotion that manages to sign Muhammad Ali’s grandson is naturally going to try and capitalize on his name, but Biaggio Ali Walsh’s win against Tom Graesser may not have been the best look for the PFL.
Ali Walsh admittedly entered the event with a 1-1 amateur record, but it became abundantly clear from the start of the fight that this was meant as a showcase bout. Graesser looked completely outmatched until Ali Walsh finally finished him with a right cross that dropped the Denver-trained fighter’s record to 1-4.
Placing this matchup at the start of their 2022 Championship undercard was no coincidence, but the PFL will have to do a bit better than that if they’re hoping to make something of Ali Walsh’s name.
Everyone Wants A Ticket To PFL
If the battle to establish MMA’s number two promotion behind the UFC was decided by how many former and current fighters were involved in events, PFL might have the position locked up.
With Sean O’Connell, Kenny Florian, and Randy Couture all already serving as the broadcast team, the PFL also made calls to Dan Hardy, Vitor Belfort, and Tyron Woodley to get their thoughts on proceedings at the 2022 Championship.
Former UFC champions Georges St-Pierre and Frankie Edgar both spent time with the broadcast team, and the cameras were sure to track down the likes of Eddie Alvarez, Aljamain Sterling, and Khamzat Chimaev in the audience.
No “Magic” For Moraes In The PFL
For about ten minutes, it looked as if MMA fans might have to reevaluate whether it was fair to have written off former UFC title challenger Marlon Moraes after his recent run of losses.
Any budding optimism about Marlon’s PFL future was quickly erased when Sheymon finally caught the 34-year-old with a clean shot in the third round. In just a few seconds, “Magic” went from looking like he might be able to continue his fighting career to suffering his fifth-straight knockout loss.
Aubin-Mercier Isn’t Just A Grappler
As someone that’s enjoyed watching Olivier Aubin-Mercier fight since his early days in the UFC, I was on my feet the moment he landed the right hook that slept Stevie Ray and won him PFL’s lightweight title.
That reaction was immediately followed by momentary confusion, because OAM has never hit anyone that hard in his entire career.
A TKO win over Evan Dunham in 2018 is the 33-year-old’s only other win via strikes, but if “The Canadian Gangster” has suddenly discovered he has punching power then this might not be the only time he wins the PFL lightweight tournament.
The Year Of Wilkinson
For MMA fans that didn’t follow the regular season and only tuned in for the PFL Championship, Rob Wilkinson might only be remembered as the guy fed to Israel Adesanya in 2018 for the latter’s UFC debut.
That loss saw “Razor” exit the UFC and return to his native Australia, where he spent the next few years competing in MMA, boxing, and kickboxing. Wilkinson joined the PFL for the 2022 season and took the promotion’s light heavyweight division by storm, which culminated in him winning the 2022 tournament with his fourth-straight finish against Omari Akhmedov.
The career arc Wilkinson has gone through during the last few years is truly remarkable, and the 30-year-old has had arguably the best year of any fighter in the sport.
The Full Range Of Title Fights
Stacking an event with multiple title fights is a pretty standard move in MMA to draw attention (and PPV buys) for a major event, but not every title fight is guaranteed to be an exciting one.
The PFL lucked out with the six championship bouts on their final event of 2022, as four out of the six ended inside the distance and only one of the fights could be described as “boring.”
The main event provided a significant upset along with some scoring controversy, and with the glorified sparring match that Sadibou Sy and Dilano Taylor put on plus a few great finishes in the other bouts, the event truly covered the full spectrum of results that fans have come to expect from MMA title fights.
What’s Next For Harrison?
Putting your promotion’s biggest star at the top of your biggest event of the year is a formula that paid off for PFL in 2019 and 2021, but things finally fell apart when Kayla Harrison met Larissa Pacheco in the main event of the 2022 Championship.
Not only did Harrison shockingly suffer the first loss of her MMA career, but it came against an opponent that she’d already beaten on two previous occasions.
The 32-year-old recently revealed she’d only have two fights remaining on her current PFL contract following her third fight with Pacheco. Having now lost her undefeated record, it will be interesting to see how Harrison proceeds with her career plans and if her potential stock as a free agent drops at all.
What did you take away from the 2022 PFL Championship?