A rematch from the 2021 regular season saw Ante Delija looking for vengeance against Bruno Cappelozza in the PFL heavyweight championship final on Wednesday.
The Hollywood, Florida-based card featured six title fights, with each winner claiming one million dollars in prize money.
Delija carried the torch for Croatian MMA, with his mentor none other than the legendary Mirko Cro-Cop. But thanks to his 46-second knockout of Delija earlier this year, Cappelozza was the favorite come fight night.
The ensuring war was not what anyone likely expected. It was, however, arguably one of the best PFL fights of all time.
Bruno Cappelozza apparently decided he needed to finish Wednesday’s heavyweight title fight even quicker than his first meeting with Delija. He came out guns blazing, rocked Delija, and put him down. Cappelozza got on topp unleashing ground n pound. Delija somehow survived, only for Cappelozza to back off, re-engage, and unleash another furious storm of ground strikes. Delija looked like he might be out of it, but he again survived. Cappelozza got on top, and tried to pass to mount, but Delija was given an assist by the cage, which blocked the Brazilian’s progress.
Delija, at that point, was holding on for dear life. With a full two minutes left in the round, that might not have been the best strategy. Cappelozza finally made his way to mount, and Delija was well out from the fence with no avenue of escape. Cappelozza locked in an arm-triangle choke, and suddenly, Delija escaped out to his feet, and rocked Cappelozza! Delija finished the round in the driver’s seat, after nearly being finished himself.
After a wild first round, things slowed just slightly in the second. Delija shot for a takedown, and nearly gave up position as he was too far out. Cappelozza leaned on him a bit before the pair moved back to center. Before long, Delija would rock Cappelozza, and the Croatian got on top, landing hammer fist after hammer fist! The Brazilian appeared close to being out, held on, but was eating a lot of punishment. Delija stepped into side control, then into a north-south position, but Cappelozza moved enough to stave off the choke. Delija then gave up position off another choke attempt, and Cappelozza took the back, raining down blows – with a few illegal shots to the back of the head mixed in. Delija did just enough to prevent a stoppage, rolled to his back, and wound up saved by the bell.
Ladies and gentleman, we have ourselves a heavyweight classic.
After two absolutely wild rounds, Cappelozza started the third teeing off on Delija, who covered up and somehow survived, then fired back, and later shot for a takedown. Cappelozza reversed, and both men got a much-needed rest spot. Back in the open, Cappelozza fired a body shot, and Delija worked his jab. He’d shoot in for a takedown, and just barely grab on to a leg. Delija couldn’t complete the shot, however.
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Early in round four, Cappelozza stuffed a takedown attempt, then took the back, getting one hook in. Delija was on one knee, and looking to power up; he finally did, with Cappelozza right on him, looking for knees and a takedown. But it was Delija who would eventually land the takedown, allowing him to spend some time on top, softening up Cappelozza. The Brazilian would escape back to his feet in the final minute, and stuff another takedown attempt by Delija.
Round five saw Cappelozza land a key takedown about a minute in. Delija closed his guard, at least initially. Cappelozza went body-head with the ground n’ pound, until Delija escaped out, only to be forced to contend with another Cappelozza takedown attempt. Cappelozza landed hammer fists to Delija’s leg, and worked the body, then finally landed a big takedown — which very well may have won him the round, and possibly the fight.
The fight was, again, a heavyweight classic, arguably one of the best fights in PFL history. Incredible heart was shown by both men, and both fought like there was a million dollars on the line — which there was. But at the end of the night, only one could be winner — and that honor went to Bruno Cappelozza.
Official Result: Bruno Cappelozza def. Ante Delija by unanimous decision (49-45, 49-45, 48-46)