Ali Taleb, who enters this fight unbeaten at 7-0, came into the PFL off a successful run in UAE Warriors, which was topped by knocking out Vinicius de Oliveira to become the promotion’s bantamweight champion. Taleb, whose MMA journey started with grappling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, competed in a PFL Europe qualifying bout during the PFL Playoffs last year, defeating Darius Mafi via first-round submission.
Kenji Bortoluzzi, a bantamweight champion of three different promotions, competes in his first bout in two years tonight. Coming in with seven stoppage victories to his 11-4 record, he comes into this bout — his first with PFL — off a unanimous decision win over Bartosz Wojcikiewicz at Superior Challenge 23 in September 2021.
The winner of this fight will take on the winner of Mokhtar Benkaci vs. Kurshed Kakhorov in the PFL Playoffs on September 30.
Taleb starts by circling around the outside. Bortoluzzi lands a low kick and switches position. Bortoluzzi level changes but is unable to get Taleb to the ground. Taleb gets on top and lands before Bortoluzzi scrambles. Taleb has a hold of him and pins him against the SmartCage, where the two work. Taleb with a strong combination. Bortoluzzi misses a high kick. Taleb blocks a kick and lands a one-two. Bortoluzzi pins Taleb against the fence, but Taleb reverses.
Upon the break, the two exchange kicks. Bortoluzzi lands a left hand as Taleb moves around. Bortoluzzi lands a combination. Taleb presses forward and lands a strong uppercut. Bortoluzzi lands an overhand left to answer. But as Bortoluzzi goes forward again, Taleb lands a quick counter left that drops Bortoluzzi! Ground and pound to follow and this one is over.
Taleb remains undefeated and advances to the bantamweight playoffs!
Ali Taleb def. Kenji Bortoluzzi via first-round KO (punch, 3:26)