Professional Fighters League: Daytona — Recap and Results

Jon Fitch - Professional Fighters League
Credit: Professional Fighters League

The inaugural event of the Professional Fighters League (PFL) took place Friday night at the Daytona International Speedway, part of the Coke Zero 400 Weekend. In the five-round non-title main event, WSOF champ Jon Fitch met Brian Foster with the winner picking up the top seed for 2018 league season. That season would, of course, have a million dollars on the line, so a top seeding would be huge.

In the co-main event, former WSOF heavyweight champ Smealinho Rama dropped down to light heavyweight to take on Ronny Markes. In other action, welterweights Joao Zeferino and Herman Terrado collided, while a lightweight battle between Jason High and Caros Fodor opened the card.

Smealinho Rama vs. Ronny Markes

A rain delay at the Daytona International Speedway meant that PFL: Daytona got underway early, with former heavyweight champ Smealinho Rama vs. Ronny Markes kicking off the card. Rain was falling, humidity could be a factor, and the fighters were going on early — who would prove most flexible?

The burly light heavyweights exchanged leg kicks early, then Markes landed a kick to the mid-section. Rama began aiming kicks for his opponent’s head, while Markes answered with one to the body. Nearly a minute in, and punches had all but been forgotten. Markes threw a kick that resulted in a takedown for him, but Rama soon wound up in control and on top. He worked towards side control, but Markes managed to work his way back up. Combos, right hands, and body shots followed from Rama while Markes backed up against the cage. Markes pressed forward with some kicks, but Smealinho Rama seemed to be finding his range. An exchange late in the round led to a slip with Markes going down; Rama followed him and narrowly avoided a leg lock, and finished the round in control.

Rama opened the second with a kick to the body, and this fight had already gone longer than many anticipated. The ref then called time due to water on the canvas. Once action restarted, it became Markes round, as he took the action to the ground, and maintained top position for the majority of the frame. While Rama was able to fend off any sub attempts, he spent the round on his back.

In the third, Rama opened with some crisp striking, but before long, Markes was once again able to put Smealinho Rama on his back. He’d stay that way until close to the end of the round, but while he made it back to the feet, it was too little too late. The story of the fight was really Markes ability to control the affair on the ground.

Ronny Markes def. Smealinho Rama by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Jason High vs. Caros Fodor

High got going early, looking for the takedown. Fodor fought it off for a moment, but High was able to get the fight down, briefly move to full mount, and land some big shots before winding up back in half guard. High showed great control, countering Fodor’s every escape attempt and winning the scrambles. He peppered Fodor with more punches from the top, and had soon opponent up a cut on Fodor. When Fodor worked his way up with ninety seconds or so remaining in the first, High quickly took the back and dragged things to the ground. He then wound up on top, and later sunk in a guillotine, but Fodor was able to pop free of it. Still, High quickly transitioned to the top, and it was all him in the first.

Round two started in similar fashion, but the ref stopped the action early due to a low blow landed by Fodor. When the action restarted, it was Fodor who managed to spend some time on top, working out of High’s guard. With ninety seconds to go, High powered out and looked to score a takedown of his own, with Fodor admirably fight the attempt off as High used a body lock and tried to drag him down from the back. High eventually transitioned to a double leg and landed the takedown against the cage. That gave High the final forty-five seconds or so of the round on top.

The third round seemed a little more competitive, with Fodor managing to fight High’s takedown attempts off for quite some time. Fodor was able to control High, and put him on his back later in the round, as high seemed to have emptied his gas tank. Fodor then worked to drop elbows and punches from within High’s guard, working body-body-head when possible, but was unable to pass guard.

Did Fodor do enough in the end? The judges didn’t think so, as High picked up the unanimous decision.

Jason High def. Caros Fodor by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Jon Fitch vs. Brian Foster

Not surprisingly, the fight went to the ground early, with Fitch on top, and Foster working to defend from the bottom. Fitch would stay active, doing enough to keep the ref from standing them up. Foster would work for an arm-bar from the bottom, but Fitch was able to twist himself free of the hold. Fitch then rode out the round, maintaining top control and staying just active enough to prevent the actin from being restarted.

In the second, Fitch was rocked on the feet thanks to double uppercuts, and while Foster tried briefly to take advantage, Fitch was able to recover. Foster seemed content to press the action against the fence, but thought better of it and separated. However, Fitch was then able to take Foster’s back and take the action down again. Fitch was in complete control at this point, despite being wobbled just minutes before. He transitioned to the back, and was able to sink in a choke for the win!

Jon Fitch def. Brian Foster by submission (side choke), Round 2, 3:12

PFL: Daytona Results
Jon Fitch def. Brian Foster by submission (side choke), Round 2, 3:12
Jason High def. Caros Fodor by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Ronny Markes def. Smealinho Rama by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Herman Terrado def. Joao Zeferino by split decision