Defending Professional Fighters League men’s welterweight champion Madomed Magomedkerimov and women’s lightweight standout Kayla Harrison are among the mixed martial arts competitors in action Thursday at Ocean Casino Resort.
The PFL, which features a regular season and playoff format in six weight classes, is in Atlantic City for the second straight year. Thursday’s card is the first of three regular-season appearances at Ocean’s Ovation Hall, along with July 25 and Aug. 3.
The top eight fighters in each weight class qualify for the playoffs, which will be held in Las Vegas in October. The PFL championship fights will be held New Year’s Eve, with the winners in each weight class earning $1 million.
Magomedkerimov (24-5), a Russian native who pocketed $1 million last year, will try for his 10th straight win in a bout against Cincinnati’s Chris Curtis (21-5), who has won eight straight. Both are 1-0 this season.
Other welterweight fights scheduled for Thursday include Brazil’s Joao Zeferino (23-9) vs. Serbia’s Bojan Velickovic (16-9-2); Brazil’s Handesson Ferreia (14-2-1) vs. Phoenix’s David Michaud (15-5); Portugal’s Andre Fialho (10-2) vs. Hawaii’s Zane Kamaka (13-5); Sweden’s Sadibou Sy (8-4-1) vs. Brazil’s Glaico Franca (20-5); and Hawaii’s Ray Cooper (15-6) vs. Boston’s John Howard (27-15-1).
In the women’s lightweight division, Harrison (4-0), a two-time Olympic judo champion from Middleton, Ohio, will take on Las Vegas’ Morgan Frier (4-2). Other bouts include New Zealand’s Genah Fabian (1-1) vs. Moriel Charneski (3-6) of Austin, Texas; and Canada’s Bobbi Jo Dalziel (5-0) vs. Brazil’s Larissa Pacheco (11-3).
Doors to Ovation Hall will open at 5 p.m., with the first bout scheduled for 5:30. Tickets range from $20 to $175 and are available through Ticketmaster and at the Ovation Hall box office.
A portion of the ticket sales will be donated to the Atlantic City Rescue Mission. Several fighters and officials visited the facility Tuesday and will again do so prior to the next two events.
All fights will be televised on ESPN2 and ESPN-plus.
Note: Vineland-based Cage Fury Fighting Championships will return to Atlantic City at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Aug. 16. Atlantic City lightweight Cesar Balmaceda (6-1) will be in action against Brazil’s Nikolas Motta (9-2).
Balmaceda will try to bounce back from his first career loss against Sidney Outlaw at Hard Rock two months ago.