For the first time in three seasons, the PFL’s featherweight final did not include Lance Palmer.
With two-time champ Palmer knocked out earlier in the season, Long Island’s Chris Wade and Dagestani powerhouse Movlid Khaybulaev instead threw down at the PFL 2021 World Championship in Florida on Wednesday.
Khaybulaev, a student and training partner of Khabib Nurmagomedov, had looked unstoppable during the regular season.
Movlid Khaybulaev got Chris Wade’s attention early in the PFL’s 2021 featherweight finale. A right hand had Wade out of position, and Khaybulaev soon pressed him into the cage. It took a moment, but Khaybulaev did get his opponent down. Wade was soon back to his feet, but Khaybulaev stayed on him, and secured another takedown. This time, Wade gave up his back, albeit with under a minute in the round. The round would come to a close before Khaybulaev could secure a choke.
Round two saw more grappling, with Khaybulaev leading the dance. But when the action stalled about 90 seconds in, the ref restarted things at center. Khaybulaev then connected with a left hand, while Wade worked his jab. He was getting lit up with counters, however, and backed up to the fence. After getting his back off the cage, Wade was forced right back as Khaybulaev pursued a takedown. Later in the round, a trip takedown landed for Khaybulaev, and Wade was dripping blood after the battering he’d taken earlier in the frame.
Chris Wade needed a change of pace in round three. Or simply a change of plan. Instead, he was once again fighting off the takedowns of Movlid Khaybulaev. But even when Wade got his back off the fence and reversed Khaybulaev, there was little he could to in terms of damage, or landing his own takedown. Some footstomps were the best he could muster before Khaybulaev got back in the driver’s seat — just before the ref restarted the action at center.
Khaybulaev blasted his way into a takedown to open round four. Wade was immediately on his back, and the Dagstani had tons of time to work. When Wade finally got up after a few minutes, he was taken right back down. Late in the round, Wade reversed and tried for a guillotine, only to be planted on his back yet again moments later.
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Round five didn’t allow for Wade to alter what seemed like an inevitable outcome. Instead, Khaybulaev cruised to a decision care of eight takedowns across five rounds, and heaps of control time.
The lopsided decision win gives Khaybulaev the PFL 2021 featherweight championship — and he’ll be a tough one to beat next season.
Official Result: Movlid Khaybulaev def. Chris Wade by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)