It's a battle of two unbeaten rookie heavyweights who are making their PFL debuts off big performances in the PFL Challenger Series, as Isaiah Pinson squares off with Denzel Freeman.
Pinson, who was an All-American football player at The Citadel, scored a second-round finish in his lone amateur bout, which came in June 2022. After a submission win – coming just under two minutes – in his professional debut five months later, Pinson earned the chance to compete in the Challenger Series this past February, earning a unanimous decision win over Vitor Resende.
After going 4-1 as an amateur (his sole blemish coming against Johnny Eblen), Freeman made his professional debut through Titan FC. There, he went 3-0 with a pair of TKOs. An active U.S. Marine Corps officer, just recently promoted to captain, Freeman earned a PFL contract during his Challenger Series performance in March, scoring a first-round TKO of Raiden Kovacs via head kick.
A touch of the gloves as the two get to the center. Freeman lands a couple of shots in an early combination, including a left hand. Pinson throws a small combo and lands a kick. Freeman gets another left hand. Pinson tries to land on the body, but Freeman answers with another left. Pinson lands a low kick. Freeman throws a high kick but is blocked.
Another left from Freeman and another low kick from Pinson. Pinson tries to pressure Freeman to the cage and lands an uppercut when he does so. With just over two minutes left, the two briefly get into a clinch battle along the SmartCage. Piinson lands a left hand and a body kick, which notably shakes up Benson. Freeman tries to come forward and lock up, but he’s unable to get the takedown. Pinson lands a left and continues to come forward. Pinson lands a right hand and is backing Freeman up with a small flurry, and it’s clear Freeman is having trouble. Pinson shakes off another Freeman takedown attempt and Pinson fires another flurry before the bell.
Freeman has some notable swelling under his right eye. Pinson lands a punch that Freeman protests as an eye poke. Pinson pressing forward and cutting off the SmartCage. Pinson lands a couple of blows to the body. Freeman lands a right hook. Low kick by Pinson. A low kick by Pinson ends up a low blow, pausing the bout two minutes into the second round.
Freeman goes for a head kick, but Pinson blocks it. Pinson fires some more, as Freeman fires back, trying to land the high kick again. Freeman lands a left. Both kick to the body. Freeman comes forward and scores the takedown with two minutes left in the round. Freeman tries to lock in hooks on Pinson’s back, but Freeman is rolled off. Freeman misses a big-shot attempt. The two battle in close and Freeman lands another takedown. Pinson makes efforts to stand up, but can’t fully before the end of the round.
Freeman lands a kick to the body. Freeman misses a left and a pair of rights. Right jab by Freeman, and as Pinson goes to answer, Freeman lands a body kick in the exchange. Freeman makes a couple of takedown attempts, but Pinson waves them off. Pinson gets Freeman against the SmartCage and lands a combination.
Left hand presses Freeman back despite him working the jab. One-two by Freeman. A couple of one-twos by Pinson, and Freeman fires one of his own. Freeman lands a right hand. One-two by Freeman. Freeman lands a high kick, but Pinson swats off another Freeman takedown attempt. Freeman throws a left jab with less than a minute left. A left hand from Pinson before they both fire a hook. Freeman lands a kick to the side. Pinson comes forward, and he lands a right. Freeman lands a high kick, and a couple of punches from Pinson before the bell.
Isaiah Pinson def. Denzel Freeman via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)