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PFL: Brendan Loughnane misses out on Playoffs following shock defeat to Jesus Pinedo

The 2022 featherweight champion was stunned in the opening round with a ferocious knee to the face.

The Professional Fighters League kicked off the second half of the 2023 PFL Regular Season live from OTE Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. 

The twelve-fight card featured the featherweight and light-heavyweight divisions, in addition to two showcase bouts, with eight fighters earning 2023 PFL Playoff berths.
The night's main event left the crowd stunned as 2022 PFL featherweight champion Brendan Loughnane was eliminated from Playoff contention by Jesus Pinedo.
Loughane entered the PFL SmartCage as a heavy favorite but was knocked out with a vicious knee to the face at 1:34 of the opening round. The victory gave Pinedo a quick six points and a trip to the 2023 PFL Playoffs.
The co-main event of the night saw 2021 PFL featherweight champion Movlid Khaybulaev submit Tyler Diamond with an arm triangle at 4:23 of the second round.
The undefeated Khaybulaev, a protege of MMA legend Khabib Nurmagomedov, earned five points and a trip to the 2023 PFL Playoffs.
Light-heavyweight Marthin Hamlet stepped into the PFL SmartCage against Sam Kei with Playoff positioning on his mind.
Hamlet outworked Kei for three rounds on his way to a unanimous decision, 29-28 across the judges scorecards.
Hamlet earned three points in the light-heavyweight standings, clinching the number two seed in the PFL Playoffs.
The 2022 PFL featherweight runner-up, Bubba "Bad Man" Jenkins, needed just 1:25 to submit Jo Sungbin, and earned a quick six points. A suplex and rear-naked choke gave Jenkins the victory and a return trip to the PFL Playoffs.
"Tonight the 2023 PFL Regular Season resumed on ESPN at Overtime Elite Arena in Atlanta with PFL Playoff berths on the line," said PFL CEO Peter Murray.
"The PFL's win-and-advance season format delivers premium action from the world's best athletes to MMA fans around the globe."
PFL President of Fighter Operations, Ray Sefo, added: "Tonight eight fighters earned spots in the 2023 PFL Playoffs.
"Congratulations to our winners and we look forward to continued great action over the next two weeks as PFL athletes look to take the next steps on their million dollar journeys."
Kicking off the ESPN card, 2022 PFL light-heavyweight semifinalists Josh Silveira and Delan Monte entered the PFL SmartCage.
A leg injury spelled the end for Monte at the 1:30 mark of the opening round, giving Silveira the TKO win.
Silveira earned six points and will head into the 2023 PFL Playoffs as the top-seeded light-heavyweight.
Closing out the ESPN+ card was a featherweight affair between a pair of Brazilians in Marlon Moraes and Gabriel Braga.
PFL Challenger Series alum, Braga, punched his way into the PFL Playoffs by stopping Moraes by TKO at 3:02 of the opening round and earned six points in the featherweight standings.
Following the fight, Moraes announced his retirement from MMA.
In further light-heavyweight action, Ty Flores sought his first PFL Playoff appearance in a matchup with Dan Spohn.
After a hard-fought three round battle, Flores came away with the unanimous decision win, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27.
Flores only earned two points, due to him missing weight, however, still earned a spot in the 2023 PFL Playoffs.
The first featherweight bout of the night saw Chris Wade square off with Ryoji Kudo. After a fiery back-and-forth start, Wade pulled off a guillotine choke to put Kudo to sleep at the 4:15 mark of the opening round.
With the first-round stoppage, Wade earned six points in the featherweight standings.
Continued light-heavyweight action saw 2023 PFL Challenger Series contract winner, Impa Kasanganay face off against PFL newcomer, Tim Caron.
Kasanganay overpowered Caron on the ground en route to a second-round arm-triangle choke submission. The stoppage came at the 3:52 mark, and Kasanganay earned five points and a PFL Playoff berth.
To kick off light-heavyweight action, Taylor Johnson matched up with Andrew Sanchez, who was making his PFL debut.
The two light-heavyweights went back-and-forth for three rounds, with Sanchez winning a close split decision, 29-27, 27-29, 29-27, earning three points in the light-heavyweights standings.
In a women's featherweight showcase bout, Abigail Montes got back in the win column in a matchup against Brandy Hester.
Montes imposed her will on Hester, punishing her with strikes from mount to earn the first-round TKO at the 3:06 mark.
In a featherweight showcase bout, Alexei Pergande, a 2022 PFL Challenger Series contract winner, took on Akeem Bashin, who made his PFL debut. Pergande put on a dominant showing, submitting Bashin by d'arce choke at 3:14 of the first round.
The PFL returns to Overtime Elite Arena next Friday, June 16 as the league's heavyweights and women's featherweights make their final push to advance to the 2023 PFL Playoffs.
The 2022 PFL heavyweight champion Ante Delija will return to the SmartCage in hopes of returning back to the Playoffs.
Meanwhile, 2022 women's lightweight champion Larissa Pacheco seeks an opportunity to continue her winning ways in a matchup against Amber Leibrock.

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