Freeman’s 27-second TKO wins contract
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The PFL’s Challenger Series returned for the eighth week of 2023, with some athletes gunning for a second shot at a PFL contract that could either serve as a developmental deal or earn them a spot directing into the regular season to compete for its $1 million prize.
2023 PFL Challenger Series 8 took place Friday at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla., and aired live on fubo Sports Network. The “Second Chance” event featured four bouts at various weight classes: lightweight, welterweight, heavyweight and women’s featherweight. The fighters in the final two bouts of the evening competed for the second time during this year’s Challenger Series.
Ali Omar (5-2) got the evening started with a gritty split decision win over Sanon Sadeck (3-2). In the second bout, Denzel Freeman (4-0) made quick work of Raiden Kovacs (0-1), finishing the fight in just 27 seconds after a brutal head kick led to the stoppage. Evelyn Martins (4-0) outstruck Jackie Cataline (3-2) to win a unanimous decision. In the feature bout, Kendly St. Louis (9-4) shut out Paulo Henrique (14-7) on the scorecards to win a one-sided unanimous decision.
The four winners were narrowed down to Freeman and Martins , with their PFL regular season hopes in the hands of voters.
The celebrity panel this week consisted of former UFC champion Randy Couture, two-time PFL champion Kayla Harrison, and award-winning recording artist and part owner of PFL, Wiz Khalifa. The panel, along with the fans, chose Freeman as the heavyweight contract winner. He will now compete in the upcoming regular season, where he will test his skills against PFL’s largest fighters.
Freeman is undefeated through four fights in his professional career. Friday’s bout was his first appearance inside the cage since 2021, where he recorded a 47-second finish of Duane Crespo at Titan FC 70.
Official results for 2023 PFL Challenger Series 8 include:
- Kendly St. Louis def. Paulo Henrique unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Evelyn Martins def. Jackie Cataline via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Denzel Freeman def. Raiden Kovacs via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 0:27
- Ali Omar def. Sanon Sadeck via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
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