Two-time PFL lightweight champ Natan Schulte was in action at PFL 1 on Friday night. The Brazilian, who won both the 2018 and 2019 season and accompanying million dollar prizes, welcomed Bellator and UFC standout Marcin Held to the league, in the co-main event of the evening.
While both men had superb ground games, it was an early exchange of heavy leather that opened up the fight on Friday. Both men found success, but surprisingly, it was Poland’s Held, known for his leg locks, who seemed to have the upper hand early. Straight punches and 1-2 combos hit home for Held. Schulte fired a low kick; Held fired back with a combo punctuated with an uppercut.
Later in the round, the pair would tie up along the fence, but it was only a brief reprieve from the striking battle. To start the second frame, the pair were right back at it. Held hit home early, but Schulte’s chin was holding up. The uppercut continued to be a weapon for Held, but soon, he was backing up, with the champ looking to be the fresher man. When they did go to the ground, care of a double-leg takedown by Held, Schulte was right back up — signalling, perhaps, that he believed Held had the advantage in that realm.
Knees and uppercuts from Held hit home early in the third round on Friday. He appeared to have something of a second wind to start the frame. Held landed to the body with a kick, but Schulte responded, with a kick he’d found success with several times in the fight. Held’s body was beginning to show some redness. Schulte then landed a heavy right hand. Held held on (pun only semi-intended), and they would continue to trade through the end of the round. More often than not, throughout the fight, Held had the upper hand on the feet.
It was Held that took home the victory in the end, thanks to a rather new wrinkle in his game: solid, crisp striking.
Official Result: Marcin Held def. Natan Schulte by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)