PFL 3: Kai Kamaka III’s Takedown D Serves Him Well Against Bubba Jenkins

Bubba Jenkins and Kai Kamaka III, 2024 PFL 3
Kai Kamaka III *left) and Bubba Jenkins, 2024 PFL 3: Chicago, Fight Night at the The Windtrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois, Friday, April 19, 2024. (Matt Ferris / PFL)

There was no love lost between featherweights Bubba Jenkins and Kai Kamaka III ahead of their showdown at Friday’s PFL 3 in Chicago, IL.

The bout, part of the promotion’s regular season, saw Hawaii’s Kamaka arriving in the Professional Fighters League from Bellator MMA, which the PFL scooped up last year. Both men came from wrestling backgrounds, though Jenkins’ NCAA Division I championship gave him the edge there on paper.

Kai Kamaka let loose with his leg kicks early in Friday’s regular season action, with Jenkins not surprisingly falling back on his wrestling early in response. But while Bubba could get Kamaka to the fence, he couldn’t get the fight down; they instead regrouped at center, where Jenkins at least held his own against “The Fighting Hawaiian” in the early going. More than held his own, even landing his left hand more than once. Another takedown attempt by Jenkins, however, would be stuffed by Kamaka. At one point while closing the distance, Jenkins found himself clipped by the hard-hitting Hawaiian.

Takedown defense would become the story of the fight. Round two found Jenkins walking Kamaka down, while Kai kept his back to the cage, circling. In another close round, the wrestler would manage to take the back of Kamaka late in the frame. The possibility of a rear-naked choke was there, but Kamaka dumped him over the top, with Jenkins briefly forced to work off his back. Not for long; he returned to his feet with half a minute or so to go.

Round three saw Kamaka connect again as Bubba Jenkins closed the distance, both stuffing the takedown and hurting Jenkins. An uppercut landed for Kai Kamaka moments later, and Jenkins appeared to be in a bit of trouble, tiring and without much success from his biggest weapon, his wrestling. After every takedown attempt, Jenkins looked slow to regain his feet, despite two grueling minutes remaining on the clock.

Jenkins would find it in him to fire an uppercut and walk forward despite his apparent fatigue. But on his next takedown, Kamaka not only stuffed the attempt, but nearly reversed it; Jenkins saved himself by diving in on a leg. With with precious seconds slipping away, the fight was in danger of likewise slipping through Bubba Jenkins’ fingers.

That’s exactly what happened, with all three judges scoring the bout 29-28 for Kai Kamaka III. He earns three points towards the post-season as a result.

Official Result: Kai Kamaka III def. Bubba Jenkins by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)