We’re closing in on the second set of regular-season fights in the Professional Fighters League, and over the first three fight cards, there have been a handful of standout performances that have elevated certain fighters into the spotlight.
That’s clear when looking at traditional stats, like fastest finishes, total strikes landed and takedowns, but the PFL is also in a unique position to show off a few new key metrics — most notably striking speed, which is measured by chips installed in every fighter’s gloves.
Fastest strike speed: Viktor Nemkov at PFL 3 – 30.6 miles per hour
Most of the fastest strikes of the season thus far predictably came from the heavyweights and light heavyweights, who used their greater mass to generate more power behind their punches. Viktor Nemkov landed the fastest strike to date by a fair margin on Rakim Cleveland at PFL 3 at 30.6 miles per hour, but that attack wasn’t enough to bring down Cleveland or weaken him enough for a knockout down the line; Nemkov settled for a unanimous decision.
Similarly, heavyweight Ante Delija‘s punch, the second-fastest of the season at 27.1 miles per hour, rocked Carl Seumanutafa as part of a dominant performance, but the fight still ended in a decision win for Delija.
The other three fighters who landed in the top five fastest punches all closed out the fights by KO or TKO. Light heavyweight Bozigit Ataev opened PFL 3 by rocking UFC Ultimate Fighter alum Dan Spohn with a 25.5 mph punch; he landed 24 out of 26 total strikes and knocked Spohn down twice on his way to a first-round KO by punches and a full six points. Featherweight Luis Rafael Laurentino landed a 25.4 mph punch on former UFC standout Jeremy Kennedy and rolled on his way to a first-round KO just 23 seconds into the fight at PFL 2.
It took Emiliano Sordi until the second round of his bout with Vinny Magalhaes to close out PFL 3, but his 24.8 mph punch was part of a barrage that earned Sordi a second-round TKO and five points toward the playoffs.
Fastest knockout: Movlid Khaybulaev at PFL 2 – 10 seconds
Sometimes it only takes one strike to get the job done. For Movlid Khaybulaev, a flying knee attempt to Damon Jackson ended their fight at PFL 2 just 10 seconds in. That gave Khaybulaev the fastest knockout to date over the PFL’s season-and-a-half of action thus far. It was one of nine KO/TKO victories recorded on the season — six of which came in the first round — and one of three fights that ended in the first 30 seconds.
Sadibou Sy rattled off a highlight-reel TKO of his own at PFL 1. After delivering a stiff liver kick to David Michaud that dropped him, Sy threw a few more punches and a kick to finish the job in a tidy 17 seconds. Laurentino’s KO of Kennedy required eight total strikes (including the power shot that dropped him) to finish the fight just 23 seconds into the first round.
Fastest submission: Sarah Kaufman at PFL 1 – 2:22
Although a lot of the attention gets paid to the big knockouts that earn fighters the maximum three bonus points for a first-round finish, submissions locked down in the first round are rewarded just as well. Six fighters have logged bonus points for a submission thus far in the PFL’s second season, five of which happened within the first round (earning maximum points) and four of which came on the very first night, at PFL 1.
Sarah Kaufman’s clinical outing against Morgan Frier ended with an arm triangle choke at 2:22 into the first round — the fastest submission among this season’s performances, and the only finish on the first night of women’s lightweight action. Men’s lightweight Natan Schulte locked in a rear naked choke on Bao Yincang at 3:03 and similarly secured the full six points with his performance.
Kelvin Tiller had one of the most memorable performances at PFL 3, with his kimura on Muhammed DeReese, which he held for an extended stretch before Dereese tapped at 3:22.
Glaico Franca (rear naked choke against Gamzat Khiramagomedov at 4:06) and Magomed Magomedkerimov (guillotine on John Howard at 4:54) had to wait until the final minute of the first round before earning six points and pace the welterweight division.
Most strikes landed: Ali Isaev at PFL 3 – 138
Ali Isaev spent almost 80% of his fight against Valdrin Istrefi on the ground and delivered a devastating flurry of punches throughout the contest. Of his 138 strikes landed, 126 connected while he was in a dominant position against Istrefi (who landed just 24 total strikes in three rounds).
Chris Curtis landed a similarly impressive 134 strikes in his bout at PFL 1 against Andre Fialho, with the added bonus of a third-round TKO in the fight’s final minute adding an extra point to his score in a welterweight division with a lot of stoppages in the first round of fights.
Defending PFL featherweight winner Lance Palmer peppered Alex Gilpin with 114 strikes — 100 of which happened on the ground — on his way to a decision victory to close out PFL 2. Bobbi Jo Dalziel earned a unanimous decision victory over Genah Fabian at PFL 1 in a fight that was spent exclusively on their feet, thanks to 110 strikes landed (including 39 leg strikes, the most landed by any fighter thus far in the season). Roberta Samad was similarly successful with her striking offense in the opening bout of the PFL 1 card against Moriel Charneski, though her 93 landed strikes were pretty well split between standing and on the ground.
Most takedowns: Ali Isaev at PFL 3 – 8
Isaev claims the top spot in this category for the same reason he leads the PFL in total strikes landed to this point in the season. The reason that 80% of his fight against Istrefi was spent on the ground is the eight takedowns Isaev landed over the course of 15 minutes.
Three fighters earned five takedowns apiece, which contributed significantly to a trio of decision wins. Satoshi Ishii edged out Zeke Tuinei-Wily for a split decision victory at PFL 3, while Handesson Ferreira earned a clear unanimous decision over Bojan Velickovic and Rashid Magomedov did the same against Loik Radzhabov at PFL 2; both fights were scored 30-27 on all three judges’ cards.
Nemkov supplemented the fastest punch landed with an efficient takedown offense, as he successfully took down Cleveland in four of his five attempts in a fight scored 29-28 on all three scorecards.