Get your fix of Quick Picks with the PFL 5 Main Card
Well, the Contender Series week 7 is in the books, and sadly, I went a rather pedestrian 3-2 on the card. Overall that moves me to 21-12, and now I’m picking the main card for PFL 5. I’m hoping to go for the clean sweep here, but there are some compelling fights that are not going to be easy to pick correctly. Oh well, that’s why they pay me the big bucks I guess. Let’s get cracking.
Check out the last episode of Quick Picks here.
Last Event Record – 3-2 – Dana White Contender Series 7
Total Record – 21-12
Will Brooks vs. Robert Watley
Will Brooks (19-4) is the former Bellator champion and fought in the UFC as well. Will Brooks is super talented and in his first PFL fight this season, he bested Luiz Firmino by Unanimous Decision. Will’s talent can not be overstated, I mean, this is a fighter who not once, but twice beat Michael Chandler. Will is well-rounded and trains at American Top Team.
Robert Watley (11-1) earned his first PFL win in a rather odd manner. He accidentally struck his opponent in the groin, and when he was unable to continue they awarded Watley with the victory. I’ve never seen a fighter win a fight as a result of an illegal strike, but it stood up so he comes into this fight with Brooks with the maximum six points.
This should be a good fight between two talented fighters. Both are skilled and will have great cardio, but Will has been in there with the better competition and as a result, holds an experience edge. I expect Will to handle things standing and grappling and cruise to a decision victory over Watley.
Maxim Grishin vs. Rakim Cleveland
Maxim Grishin (27-7) enters this fight on a four-fight winning streak. Grishin made the move from heavyweight to light heavyweight and since having done so he’s won 14 of 15. He’s a dangerous striker and grappler, having been trained by guys like Fedor Emelianenko. He poses a threat to Cleveland who has struggled against fighters looking to grapple him.
Rakim Cleveland (19-9) might not have the best record in the field, but he’s certainly plenty game. He has good standup and really good kicks. He struggles against wrestlers and is taken down at a high rate which poses some trouble in this fight. He pulled the upset in his first PFL fight, winning when his opponent injured his jaw.
Maxim Grishin has too many tools at his disposal for Cleveland in my opinion. I think the Russian Grishin will take Rakim down and control the fight on the mat before submitting Cleveland for the victory.
Rashid Magomedov vs. Luiz Firmino
Rashid Magomedov (20-2) is a great wrestler who is tremendously scrappy. He went 5-1 in the UFC but could not agree on a new deal, and opted to leave the organization and sign elsewhere. His lone defeat in the past 8 years came at the hands of Beneil Dariush. He’s making his promotional debut here, after his first scheduled fight against Jason High was scrapped due to Rashid being injured.
Luiz Firmino (20-9) is just 1-3 in his last four outings. He needs a win here, badly. A loss in this fight could take Luiz out of the running for the million dollar prize and could also result in him be forced back to the regional circuit. He’s a tremendous grappler with top-notch submission skills. He just seems unable to reach the level he used to compete at.
I think this fight is going to be all Rashid Magomedov. I think he’ll win the stand-up and execute takedowns. The only concern for Rashid will be avoiding submission attempts, but he’s well schooled in that. I think he cruises to a decision victory.
Vinny Magalhaes vs. Brandon Halsey
Vinny Magalhaes (15-9) is a submission specialist who can tie you in knots on the ground. That said, his standup isn’t good, and if he can’t get the fight to the canvas, he could be in some trouble. He’s won five of his last seven but has lost two of his last three. He won his first PFL fight of the season via submission in the first round, earning six points. A win here will almost certainly see Vinny lock up a playoff spot.
Brandon Halsey (11-3) won seven fights in a row for Bellator, including a victory over Alexander Shlemenko to become Bellator Middleweight champion. However, he lost the belt to Shlemenko and then dropped two more in a row, leading to his leaving Bellator and signing with PFL. He won his first fight in PFL and will need a victory here too in order to make the playoffs.
This is a tough fight for me, although what Halsey is best at is wrestling, but taking Vinny down might not be the best way to go. Vinny can sub you from the top or bottom, so facing a wrestler isn’t too scary for him. I’m going with Vinny here by submission.
Natan Schulte vs. Jason High
Natan Schulte (12-3) is a product of American Top Team who can beat you standing or on the mat. He’s a talented lightweight who is strong and has good cardio. He and High will be fairly even standing and I think Schulte’s submissions give him the edge on the ground. He brings a pretty complete game to the cage, and I feel like he’s a candidate to make a deep run in the division.
Jason High (21-7) is a good fighter who has elite wrestling. He has competed against high-level competition. He brings a lot to the table. Jason lost his first PFL fight to Efrain Escudero via submission, so a win here in mandatory for him to make the playoffs and compete for a million dollars. He’ll have his hands full here.
I think these are perhaps the most evenly matched fighters on the card. It could truly go either way, but if I’m being honest, I think Nate Schulte will earn the victory here and continue into the playoffs and a bid for a million dollar payday. I’m going with Schulte via submission.