It’s Week Seven of the PFL Challenger Series and that means Light Heavyweights are taking center stage to compete for a contract tonight. Kicking off the action, undefeated Monte Morrison takes on Roland Dunlap. Both fighters enter this bout with perfect 3-0 records and train at high quality gyms with Morrison training at American Top Team in Florida and Dunlap training at Roufus Sport in Wisconsin. Having both won two amateur titles and their first three professional bouts, something has to give tonight with a PFL contract on the line.
The bell rings and we are underway with week seven as the fighters begin to feel each other out. Dunlap fires a high kick that Morrison easily defends before circling out and returning fire with a body roundhouse.
Dunlap switches stances and Morrison lands a pair of inside leg kicks as Dunlap resets and throws a spinning backfist with a roundhouse kick to the body behind it. They reset and Dunlap lands a nice low kick right hand combo. Morrison eats another kick to the body and returns with a right hand but again Dunlap lands a heavy kick to the body.
Dunlap seems to be settling in now with his hands low as he lands more low kicks and Morrison returns with a short right hook that gets through. Morrison initiates the clinch but Dunlap makes him regret that decision instantly, landing a beautiful osoto-gari trip before seamlessly passing to mount and raining down some hammer fists with two minutes to go in the round.
Morrison is able to scoot back to the fence and recover half guard but he seems a bit overwhelmed by Dunlap here in this opening salvo as Dunlap postures up and lands some more big hammerfists as Dunlap channels his inner Showtime Pettis and goes off the cage with a hammerfist, wow! Dunlap continues landing solid ground and pound as the ref warns him to watch the back of the head. Morrison will survive to the bell.
We’re back for round two and Dunlap seems extremely comfortable, feinting cage attacks and spins at an opponent who appears a little outgunned early. Morrison is turning up the volume a bit now throwing some straight punches and landing with the right. Morrison goes back to the low kick as Dunlap throws another big high kick that doesn’t connect. Again Dunlap lands a big body roundhouse but this time Morrison makes him pay with a big right hand but Dunlap is doing a great job being first and third in exchanges, landing another body kick that seems to irritate Morrison.
Dunlap lands a heavy side kick to the body and it feels like he’s using all this body work to set up the killshot to the head but Morrison has been defensively sound up top so far. The fighters hand fight and neither can land before Dunlap shoots a single leg that Morrison easily stuffs, but Dunlap stays with it and changes levels, engaging the clinch and looking for that trip again but Morrison fights it off this time. Dunlap has been relentless so far as he lands a big knee to the head of Morrison followed by a right hand before changing levels and getting the takedown with under a minute.
Dunlap passes to mount again and will leave Morrison with some big shots to end the second round. Morrison will likely need a finish at this point to keep his million dollar dreams of a PFL contract alive.
Our final round is underway and we’ll need to see some urgency from Morrison who perfectly sprawls on an early takedown attempt from Dunlap but just as he did in the previous round, Dunlap stays relentless with the pressure and gets in deep on a single leg.
This time however Morrison is able to fight it off and starts walking Dunlap down before Dunlap shoots again. Dunlap again shoots and reshoots, adjusting his grip and position and chaining attacks together excellently but Dunlap makes a mistake, throwing a knee to the head of a grounded Morrison.
Dunlap lands an Illegal Knee here in the 3rd round. Ref calls for a temp stop in action to allow Monte time to recover#PFLonFubo LIVE NOW | @fuboSports— PFL (@PFLMMA) March 11, 2023
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Morrison takes a long break to recover but doesn’t take the out, rejecting a DQ win in favor of continuing a fight he is clearly losing, a commendable move as the ref will take a point from Dunlap. With three minutes to go in the round, Morrison could turn it up here and get himself a draw rather than a loss if he can dig deep and win the third.
Morrison seems to know how dire the situation is, landing a nice head kick on the reset followed by a short right hook before the fighters clinch again. Dunlap is grinding Morrison into the SmartCage, perhaps wisely just stalling at this point as Morrison circles out and takes the center of the SmartCage, landing a nice step in knee to the body of Dunlap but Dunlap returns fire with a knee of his own and clinches again.
With 90 seconds remaining, Morrison needs to make something happen as Dunlap throws and misses a spinning backfist off the clinch break, and Morrison lands a big uppercut inside before sprawling out and defending another Dunlap takedown attempt. Dunlap attempts a jumping knee in the clinch but can’t connect and with 10 seconds remaining both men look spent but throw the last energy they have into a last flurry of strikes, with Dunlap coming away bleeding from the head.
Roland Dunlap unanimously sweeps the cards to kick off week seven of the PFL Challenger Series.
Roland Dunlap def. Monte Morrison via UD (29-27 3x)